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Smart but unhappy: independent-school competition and the wellbeing-efficiency trade-off in education

Heller-Sahlgren, Gabriel (2017) Smart but unhappy: independent-school competition and the wellbeing-efficiency trade-off in education. Economics of Education Review, 62. pp. 66-81. ISSN 0272-7757

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.10.005


We study whether independent-school competition involves a trade-off between pupil wellbeing and academic performance. To test this hypothesis, we analyse data covering pupils across the OECD, exploiting historical Catholic opposition to state schooling for exogenous variation in independent-school enrolment shares. We find that independent-school competition decreases pupil wellbeing but raises achievement and lowers educational costs. Our analysis and balancing tests indicate these findings are causal. In addition, we find several mechanisms behind the trade-off, including more traditional teaching and stronger parental achievement pressure.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
University Structure > Language Centre
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I20 - General
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I31 - General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness
L - Industrial Organization > L3 - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise > L33 - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprises; Privatization; Contracting Out
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2018 14:31
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:34
Projects: ES/J500070/1
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation

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