The Determinants of Private High School Attendance, by John Z. Smith Jr. (May 1996)
This paper develops a model of private school choice that incorporates measures of the availability and costs of private schooling, as well as the quality of existing public schools, in the local market for secondary education. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the 1980 Private High Schools File, I estimate this model on all individuals enrolled in high school in 1979 and all Catholics enrolled in high school in 1979. I find that the availability of a private high school of one’s religious affiliation in one’s county of residence significantly increases the likelihood of private school attendance. Further, per capita educational expenditures in one’s county of residence are inversely related to the likelihood of attending a private high school. Finally, private school enrollment decisions are relatively insensitive to tuition and fees levels. These results provide a link between aggregate models of private school enrollment within educational markets and microdata models of private school choice.