Working Papers / Work In Progress

Catholic schools are the largest non-governmental school network in the world, serving 62.2 million students globally. This paper uses Chilean data to assess the impact of attending Catholic schools versus other voucher-secular and public schools on student outcomes. The study addresses admission-selection bias by leveraging exogenous variation from school admission lotteries and controls for students’ probability of securing a seat at each type of school. Causal estimates reveal that attending Catholic schools increases the probability of taking the college entry exam (CEE) by 17 percent compared to public secular schools. Additionally, it raises the chances of scoring above the national mean by 33 percent in math and 45 percent in reading. There is also an increased probability of applying and getting accepted to college. Nevertheless, attending Catholic schools raises dropout rates for males with low baseline ability. Notably, positive CEE effects are driven by female students; however, attending a Catholic school appears to dissuade them from pursuing STEM majors. Survey evidence reveals that Catholic schools have stricter disciplinary measures and foster higher levels of parent involvement than other public and secular institutions, resembling characteristics commonly associated with high-achieving charters.

School attendance and student performance pose significant challenges in many developing countries where insecurity and traffic issues prevail. The adverse impact of truancy on learning, dropout rates, and classroom dynamics is a shared concern among low- and middle-income nations. These challenges stem from various factors, including safety concerns and lengthy commutes, underscoring the urgency of innovative solutions to ensure education access. This study investigates Bogota's pioneering Ciempiés program, which seeks to address these issues by enhancing school attendance and safety. Ciempiés orchestrates supervised walking caravans led by adult monitors, specifically targeting public schools with a high prevalence of walking students. The goal is to tackle safety concerns, boost attendance, and ultimately elevate academic performance. We assess the program's impact through comparisons of traffic accidents in Ciempiés-operated school zones versus non-operational zones. Additionally, it aims to evaluate school attendance and academic performance, relying on student-level data spanning 2016 to 2022. These insights are critical for gauging the program's effectiveness in ameliorating educational outcomes and mitigating safety challenges inherent to school commutes in urban environments.

Our study investigates the impact of school spending categories on value-added outcomes within the Chilean education system. To address challenges related to endogeneity, we leverage Chile's centralized admission system (SAE), which employs lotteries to resolve application ties in oversubscribed schools. By simulating the application process, we compute each applicant's propensity score, enabling us to control for parental preferences and mitigate sorting bias. Additionally, we focus on the initial cohorts of students enrolled through SAE, as schools' spending decisions are less likely to be influenced by student characteristics during this period. Using a linear regression model, we analyze the relationship between school value-added and spending categories while accounting for income and past expenditures. We also explore potential variations in expenditure effectiveness based on student characteristics and achievement levels.



This paper evaluates the effects of the administrative decentralization of education on teacher quality and student outcomes in Colombia. In 2001, the government established an arbitrary rule that granted municipalities with a 2002 population 100,000 almost complete autonomy to provide education services (certification). This analysis takes advantage of this rule to evaluate, using difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity methodologies, the effect of municipal autonomy on teacher quality and student outcomes, including achievement and enrollment. The control group is made up of municipalities for which the provision of education was centralized and managed by the departmental authorities. The results indicate that administrative decentralization (being certified) improves both school enrollment and student achievement as well as the quality of teachers, as measured by teachers’ education level and scores on teachers’ entry competency exams. Using a mediation analysis, the paper finds that higher-quality teachers hired by the certified municipalities partially explained the improvement in student achievement. This analysis also shows that “certified” municipalities invest more local resources in education which also contributes to explain to a much lesser extent their superior educational outcomes. Finally, the results suggest that achieving better student outcomes is less related to the amount of resources that decentralized municipalities managed and more associated with the fact that those resources seem to have been better allocated, generating significant efficiency gains. These gains may be the consequence of lower transaction costs of matching local preferences with local educational interventions.

Policy Briefs/Notes

La pandemia ocasionada por el COVID-19 ha afectado considerablemente a las escuelas privadas de América Latina y el Caribe, poniendo en riesgo la continuidad del servicio educativos de millones de estudiantes, ya que muchas escuelas han cerrado o podrían cerrar. Si esto pasa el sistema educativo debe garantizar la absorción de los estudiantes que podrían quedarse sin escuela. En este contexto, proponemos y discutimos alternativas a los gobiernos que van desde fortalecer el sistema público educativo hasta subsidiar la oferta o demanda de colegios privados. La estrategia más adecuada para cada país dependerá de su contexto, y de la ponderación de sus costos y beneficios, pero, sí enfatizamos que es importante que los países actúen de una manera u otra, con el fin de garantizar que los millones de estudiantes de escuelas privadas puedan continuar sus estudios en instituciones de calidad.

Considerando los desafíos que la región enfrenta en seleccionar y asignar los mejores docentes a las escuelas que más los necesitan, en este documento tratamos de responder a dos preguntas fundamentales: ¿cómo identificamos y seleccionamos a los mejores docentes? y ¿cómo los asignamos a las escuelas de una manera eficiente y equitativa? Para responder a estas preguntas recopilamos información sobre la forma en que 12 sistemas de América Latina y el Caribe (ALC) seleccionan y asignan a sus docentes: Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, Panamá, Perú, la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (CABA - Argentina), la municipalidad de Río de Janeiro (Brasil) y el estado de Pernambuco (Brasil), y destacamos las ventajas de los sistemas que implementan estos procesos de forma centralizada.

Book Chapters

'A substantial decentralisation reform occurred in Colombia school education in 2001. The government established an arbitrary rule that granted municipalities with a population greater than 100,000 almost complete autonomy to provide education services (certifica- tion). Going beyond some mechanisms identified in previous policy evaluations (such as a higher proportion of higher-quality teachers) we analysed how reform a!ected the investment of local resources in education and the distribution of the total budget in key areas of the school system. Certified municipalities experienced an increase in education expenditure, after discounting teachers’ payroll, because of increased eðciency in the management of total resources, both locally raised and central government transfers. This allowed higher expenditures in school infrastructure, education quality, and other education-related programmes, all key components of education policy. In addition, after 2002 the competitiveness of public schools increased in certified municipalities, compared to non-certified areas. Achieving better student outcomes was primarily explained by changes in the allocation of resources in certified municipalities that resulted in increased eðciency after gaining autonomy. Lastly, certification enhances competitiveness of public schools as against private ones.