We spoke with Inequality: Measurement, Interpretation and Policy network member Caterina Calsamiglia about her work studying school choice, and how policy can affect equality of opportunity. Calsamiglia notes that school choice, a system which allows parents to rank school preferences for their children in order to find an appropriate fit, has greatly expanded in recent years in the OECD countries.
Both parents and policymakers have a set of priorities that they use in placing children in the case that there is over-demand for certain schools. Calsamiglia found that parents are often not truthful about what their true preferences are. "Not only will parents not tell you the truth, but they will systematically apply for the school that they have priority for, independently of their preferences," she says. "The priorities that order the applicants when there is over-demand have a huge impact on what parents will apply for."
In the HCEO interview, she also discusses how school choice affects school quality and school segregation patterns. "Who is assigned to a given school greatly determines the quality of that school," she says.
Calsamiglia is a Research Professor at CEMFI and and an Affiliated Professor of the Barcelona GSE. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University.