SCHOOL CHOICE RESEARCH

Private School Choice And Character: More Evidence From Milwaukee

Corey A. DeAngelis, Ph.D.
Patrick J. Wolf, Ph.D.
February 26, 2019
EDRE Working Paper 2019-03

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Abstract

We examine the effects of Milwaukee’s school voucher program on adult criminal activity and paternity suits. Using matched student-level data, we find that exposure to the program in 8th or 9th grade predicts lower rates of conviction for criminal activity and lower rates of paternity suits by ages 25 to 28. Specifically, exposure to the MPCP is associated with a reduction of around 53 percent in drug convictions, 86 percent in property damage convictions, and 38 percent in paternity suits. The program effects tend to be largest for males and students with lower levels of academic achievement at baseline.

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In A Nutshell

The positive effects are largest for the most at-risk subpopulations of students: males and students with lower levels of baseline academic achievement. Wolf and DeAngelis emphasize that “avoiding the criminal justice system is critical to the life success of low-income urban youth.”

53%

Fewer Drug Convictions

Exposure to the MPCP has a highly statistically significant effect on reducing the number of drug convictions across all three statistical models.

86%

Fewer Property Damage Convictions

The difference between the effect of the MPCP on males and its effect on females is statistically significant for drug and property damage convictions.

38%

Fewer Paternity Suits

We find that exposure to the program in 8th or 9th grade is associated with lower rates of conviction for criminal activity and lower rates of paternity suits by the time students are 25 to 28 years old.

Best Academic Article Of 2021

  • Private school choice is associated with either equal or better demonstrated character skills in the long-run.

  • Students who participated in the MPCP are less likely to commit drug and property crimes and experience paternity suits than their peers in MPS.

  • The positive effects are largest for the most at-risk subpopulations of students: males and students with lower levels of baseline academic achievement.

  • The study by Wolf and DeAngelis adds to the growing evidence on the positive impact of Milwaukee’s pioneering choice program.

  • The Journal of Private Enterprise recently named “Private School Choice and Character: More Evidence from Milwaukee” as the best academic article of 2021 in their publication.

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