The Effect of Increased School Choice on High Ability Students


In this paper we exploit a reform to the high school admission system in Bergen, Norway, to test whether increasing school choice has an effect on the subsequent academic and non-academic outcomes of students. The reform allowed students to freely choose which school to attend and the admission to oversubscribed schools was based on the grades obtained at middle school. This reform increased dramatically the proportion of students with high grades at middle school who attended the best high schools in town. However, we do not find evidence of improved outcomes for these students. Hence, having more choice about the school and attending a better school had no significant effect on the outcome of high ability students. The past literature showed positive effects of attending a better schools for low ability students. We conclude that the effect of going to a better school is most likely heterogenous over the ability and the preferences of students, and that the effects of increased school choices reflect this heterogeneity.