Educational Vouchers: Effectiveness, Choice, and Costs (1998)


Henry M. Levin

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Most of the policy discussion on the effects of educational vouchers has been premised on theoretical or ideological positions rather than evidence. This article analyzes a substantial body of recent empirical evidence on achievement differences between public and private schools; on who chooses and its probable impact on educational equity; and on the comparative costs of public and private schools and an overall voucher system. The findings indicate that: (1) results among numerous studies suggest no difference or only a slight advantage for private schools over public schools in student achievement for a given student, but evidence of substantially higher rates of graduation, college attendance, and college graduation for Catholic high school students; (2) evidence is consistent that educational choice leads to greater socioeconomic (SES) and racial segregation of students; and (3) evidence does not support the contention that costs of private schools are considerably lower than those of public schools, but the costs of an overall voucher infrastructure appear to exceed those of the present system.


School Reform, Cost-Effectiveness



Date Posted: 16 May 2023

This document has been peer reviewed.