Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Education Reform


Patrick Wolf

Committee Member

Jay Greene

Second Committee Member

Robert Maranto


Civic Education, Democratic Education, Non-cognitive Skills, Private Schooling, School Choice, School Vouchers


With the 2016 presidential campaign and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary of the United States, private school choice – in the form of vouchers, tuition tax-credits, and education savings accounts – has become increasingly policy relevant. While an introduction of competitive pressures into the schooling sector may improve educational quality levels, the effects on societal outcomes such as national test scores, student effort, and criminality may be less clear. After all, traditional public schools were created to ensure that children from diverse backgrounds became proper citizens.

These three dissertation chapters empirically examine a largely underexplored area: the societal impacts of private school choice around the world. The chapters explore the effects of private school choice on international student test scores, student effort, and student criminality using quasi-experimental methodology. The results suggest that private schooling improves student test scores and reduces the proclivity of students to commit crimes as adults. The analyses also suggest that private schooling increases student effort on international tests and decreases student effort on long surveys after international exams. I discuss each of these findings as they relate to the academic literature and current education policy debates.