Understanding how vouchers impact municipalities in Chile, and how municipalities respond to market pressures
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The main purpose of this dissertation is to examine how Chilean municipalities have been affected by, and have responded to, the threat of competition for students under the Chilean voucher system, and to test whether between-district stratification has been a relevant or irrelevant outcome of such pressures. More specifically, this study analyzes which key municipal factors are associated with local public school enrollment gains, retention or losses under the voucher system. In addition, the purpose is to study the measures undertaken by some municipal public school officials and public school principals at the local level in Santiago de Chile, the Chilean capital city, in order to retain or attract students to their public-municipal schools. Main findings indicate that unfair competition between public and private-voucher sectors largely explains public-municipal enrollment losses and private-voucher enrollment gains experimented both in Santiago and the overall country. On the other hand, unfair competition between public school districts themselves largely explains differences on enrollment and stratification within the public sector. Overall, this dissertation demonstrates that the Chilean voucher system has not improved the educational opportunities of disadvantaged students within the city –and across the country as a whole- as school choice proponents claim vouchers will do.