Can governments contract out school management at scale? In 2016 the Government of Punjab transferred management of over 4,000 failing primary schools to private operators. Schools remained free to students. Private operators received a government subsidy per enrolled student of less than half per-student spending in government schools. This paper evaluates the effects on performance of converted schools. Comparing early converters to later converters, we estimate that enrolment in treated schools increased by over 60 percent, and test scores declined sharply.
This paper was first published in Education Economics.
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