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A Think Twice Review of:

The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?

Think Twice - Apr 06, 2016

Publisher/Think Tank - Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas

Author(s) - Corey DeAngelis and Patrick J. Wolf

The authors of the working paper used data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) to compare crimes processed through the Wisconsin courts for program participants and a matched sample of students. Although most of these comparisons showed no association, the report finds that some subgroups of MPCP students were less likely to commit crimes as adults.

Reviewer(s) - Clive Belfield, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

An academic review of the paper finds that it has several weaknesses and does not support the implication that voucher programs caused a reduction in crime. Clive Belfield, Queens College (CUNY) is very clear in his review, the findings from the paper should not warrant any strong claims of voucher effects on crime. Belfield raises the following concerns: (1) the study’s results are highly variable, with most comparisons showing statistically insignificant results; (2) the methods used do not justify a causal inference; and (3) the evidence, despite the paper’s title, is associational, not causal. In short, Belfield cautions that a better interpretation of the report would be that vouchers and crime are, in fact, not correlated.