A discrete choice experiment : school choice

As part of my PhD research project “Modeling the hardest decision parents will make: School Choice” I will conducting a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) to understand how Australian parents apply behavioural decision rules in choosing schools for their children, and how choice sets are evaluated to find the ‘best choice’.

This research will help understand why Australian parents are spending an extra $5.4billion more per year in private school fees when socio-economic sorting across public schools would lead to the same academic outcomes.

We also hope to gain insight in to why some recently opened private schools have failed, leading to large losses, despite the strong willingness of parents’ to pay for private schooling.

This project will also look at the influence of a parent’s socio-economic background on the type and strength of preferences. Our results will have important social equity implications for understanding how wealth, occupation and prior education affect a parent’s choice of school. This will be the 1st time a discrete choice experiment has been applied to school choice even though it is an experimental approach applied extensively in other quasi-market public good areas of health, the environment & transport infrastructure. Previously DCE hasn’t been applied to education due to the inherently endogenous behaviour of educational choice attributes, which this project resolves.

If parents are not making classical rational choice decisions, this research will have important implications for economics & education policy that have not previously been identified.

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