What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers

Jacob, B. and Lefgren, L. (2007). "What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers." Quarterly Journal of Economics. 122(4): 1603-1637.

Abstract

This paper examines revealed parent preferences for their children's education using a unique data set that includes the number of parent requests for individual elementary school teachers along with information on teacher attributes including principal reports of teacher characteristics that are typically unobservable. We find that, on average, parents strongly prefer teachers that principals describe as good at promoting student satisfaction and place relatively less value on a teacher's ability to raise standardized math or reading achievement. These aggregate effects, however, mask striking differences across family demographics. Families in higher poverty schools strongly value student achievement and are essentially indifferent to the principal's report of a teacher's ability to promote student satisfaction. The results are reversed for families in higher-income schools.

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