School Choice and Home Prices: Evidence from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Ben Hoffman

Marcus Winters
SCDP Milwaukee Evaluation
March 2009

It's no secret that the quality of local public schools heavily influences the residential choices of parents and can impact housing prices, too. This study examines the effect of widespread school choice provisions on the residential housing market. It's part of a larger group of studies on education in Milwaukee, a fitting laboratory because it is home to one of the nation's largest voucher programs, a bevy of charter schools, and an intra-district public open enrollment program. But despite the extent of choice in that city's education system, a significant positive relationship can still be found between home value and average test scores of the nearest elementary school. A 1 percent increase in average scores produces a 1.35 percent increase in home prices. Put simply, Milwaukee's choice programs haven't socioeconomically integrated the city's residential areas. Unfortunately, as acknowledged by the author, the study suffers from methodological limitations, not least the fact that home price information is not available before 2002, though Milwaukee's private and public choice programs were implemented well before then. You can find it here.