Residential Histories, Geography of Opportunities, and Educational Achievement in the City of Santiago
This paper explores a fascinating international example of innovation in school choice. In 1980, Chile implemented a universal education voucher. This makes Santiago, a city that exhibits a high degree of residential segregation, an excellent case study of whether school choice can reduce the school segregation inherent in residential segregation. Carolina Flores used census data, mathematics achievement scores from the National System for the Measurement of the Quality of Education (SIMCE), and a survey of about 1,000 parents in segregated and mixed neighborhoods of low, middle low, and middle socioeconomic status to test hypotheses addressing this central question.
In her literature review, Flores notes that other researchers have found that Chilean school socioeconomic segregation is even greater than residential segregation. In her research, she found that parents in segregated neighborhoods are more likely to choose local schools than parents in other neighborhoods, perhaps because of a lack of information about school quality. This enhances the segregation of schools, with detrimental effects on student achievement, since test scores for schools in poor, segregated neighborhoods are lower than for all other types of neighborhoods.
This paper was presented at the Lincoln Institute’s annual Land Policy Conference in 2013 and is Chapter 13 of the book Education, Land, and Location.