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School choice, private schools, civic outcomes, voting partisanship


The United States has one of the lowest election turnout rates in the developed world. Consequently, social scientists are perpetually seeking to expand upon their knowledge of what factors are associated with voting, or the lack thereof. Commonly identified factors including age, income, educational attainment and race have been studied extensively. However, there is one plausible factor associated with voting that might be underappreciated: the effect of private schooling. The limited literature that exists on the topic suggests that private schools, the majority of them Catholic, have a positive effect on civic outcomes, including voter participation. In using a rich, nationally representative dataset -- the Understanding America Study based out of the University of Southern California -- I can reexamine whether attending a private school has an effect on whether Americans vote. I can also shed light on a heretofore unanswered question: How does private schooling impact which candidate an individual supports? Overall, the data indicates that private schooling appears to have no impact on voter turnout, but that attending some private school appears to have a liberalizing effect.

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EDRE Working Paper

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