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NEPC Review: Markets vs. Monopolies in Education: A Global Review of the Evidence (September 2008)

The Cato Institute report examines international evidence on outcomes from public and private education. The paper makes three key claims: private schools outperform public schools in “the overwhelming majority of cases”; private schools’ superiority is greatest in countries where the education system has more market features; and “the implications for U.S. education policy are profound.” Each claim is problematic. The first is based on an atypical method of summarizing academic literature and excludes two important research studies. The claim also fails to adequately take into account selection bias due, for instance, to parents choosing private schools because of an academic focus on their children. The second claim oversimplifies a very complex issue, namely the optimal application of market forces to improve education. And the third claim is dubious as well: even if the report’s first two claims are legitimate (based on international evidence), there may be no practical implications for U.S. education policy.

Suggested Citation: Belfield, C.R. (2008). Review of "Markets vs. Monopolies in Education. A Global Review of the Evidence.” Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from

Document Reviewed:

Markets vs. Monopolies in Education: A Global Review of the Evidence

Andrew Coulson
Cato Institute