Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Do Parents Know Best? The Short and Long-Run Effects of Attending The Schools that Parents Prefer
  • Diether W. Beuermann
  • C. Kirabo Jackson
Recent studies document that, in many cases, sought after schools do not improve student test scores. Three explanations are that (a) existing studies identify local average treatment effects that do not generalize to the average student, (b) parents cannot discern schools’ causal impacts, or (c) parents value schools that improve outcomes not well measured by test scores. To shed light on this, we employ administrative and survey data from Barbados. Using discrete choice models, we document that most parents have strong preferences for the same schools. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we estimate the causal impact of attending a preferred school on a broad array of outcomes. As found in other settings, preferred schools have better peers, but do not improve short-run test scores. We implement a new statistical test and find that this null effect is not due to school impacts being different for marginal students than for the average student. Looking at longer-run outcomes, for females, preferred schools reduce teen motherhood, increase educational attainment, increase earnings, and improve health. In contrast, for males, the effects are mixed. The pattern for females is consistent with parents valuing school impacts on outcomes not well measured by test scores, while the pattern for males is consistent with parents being unable to identify schools’ causal impacts. Our results indicate that test-scores impacts may be an incomplete measure of school quality.
  • school quality,
  • longrun effects,
  • education and health,
  • education and wages
Publication Date
Citation Information
Diether W. Beuermann and C. Kirabo Jackson. "Do Parents Know Best? The Short and Long-Run Effects of Attending The Schools that Parents Prefer" (2018)
Available at: