We exploit the unique features of high schools in Seoul to study the effects of school autonomy on student outcomes. Under South Korea's equalization policy, both private and public schools in Seoul admit students that are assigned randomly to them, receive equal government funding, charge identical fees, and use similar curricula. However, private schools have greater flexibility in personnel decisions, and their principals and teachers face stronger incentives to perform. We find that private high schools have better student outcomes than public high schools. Our results suggest that autonomy in personnel decisions explains the positive student outcomes in private schools.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
There is no conflict of interest. We declare that we have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in the manuscript. This project received the financial support of 15,000 AUD from the Monash Business School (formerly known as the Faculty of Business and Economics) at Monash University. The project received survey assistance given by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and Yeo Bok Yun, and data provided by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE), the Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS), and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Korea.
We are extremely grateful to the anonymous referees and the coeditor Jonah E. Rockoff for their detailed comments and suggestions which helped improve the papers substantially. We also thank Tiffany Chou, Julie Cullen, Michael Ewens, Eric A. Hanushek, Hisam Kim, Jungmin Lee, John A. List, Pushkar Maitra, Karthik Muralidharan, Birendra Rai, and seminar and conference participants at Curtin University, Deakin University, Monash University, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia, the Econometrics Society Australasian Meeting 2012, the Labour Econometrics Workshop 2012, Monash-Warwick Workshop 2013, the Asian Meeting of the Econometric Society 2013, and the annual meeting of the Society for Labor Economists 2014 for helpful comments. Byung Uk An, Lucy Eunju Kim, Hyuk Son, and Joonho Yeo provided excellent research assistance. This project would not have been possible without the funding from Monash University, survey assistance given by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and Yeo Bok Yun, and data provided by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE), the Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS), and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Korea. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC). Appendix A
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Economics and Econometrics