What parents want: school preferences and school choice

Simon M Burgess, Ellen J Greaves, Anna F Vignoles, Deborah J Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Citations (SciVal)


We investigate parents’ preferences for school attributes in a unique dataset of survey, administrative, census and spatial data. Using a conditional logit, incorporating characteristics of households, schools, and home-school distance, we show that most families have strong preferences for schools’ academic performance. Parents also value schools’ socio-economic composition and distance, which may limit the potential of school choice to improve academic standards. Most of the variation in preferences for school quality across socio-economic groups arises from differences in the quality of accessible schools rather than differences in parents’ preferences, although more advantaged parents have stronger preferences for academic performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1289
Number of pages28
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number587
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


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