Wednesday, March 4, 2015

From our March 2015 issue: Implications of Public School Choice for Residential Location Decisions

  1. Todd L. Ely1
  2. Paul Teske1
  1. 1University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, USA
  1. Todd L. Ely, School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, P.O. Box 173364, Campus Box 142, Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA. Email:


A growing empirical literature demonstrates the effects of introducing public school choice on housing values. The weakening of the connection between home location and school location has implications for urban and suburban communities. In this article, we contribute to the understanding of how public school choice is related to the residential location decisions of parents. Using a nationally-representative sample, we demonstrate that where public school choice is reported to be available, the probability that parents choose a residence based on the assigned schools is 6.5 percentage points lower. Parents are actively incorporating the option to choose schools into the decision of where to live and report relatively high levels of parental satisfaction with those schools. At the same time, roughly, one out of every eight children engaged in school choice attends a school that was not their family’s first choice and report substantially lower levels of school satisfaction. This mismatch between schools and students may limit the likelihood that more families will eschew traditional residential school choice.

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