Competition for Contracts with Public Schools and Districts: How Much is There, and Does It Matter for Students?
Nora Gordon

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of California at San Diego

Primary Discipline

Public schools and districts are increasingly turning to private entities to purchase goods and services, including curricula, data management systems, and professional development. When private providers face little pressure from competitors (monopoly is the extreme case), they have the power to inflate prices and/or reduce quality. The competitiveness of these markets thus has important implications for educational quality. I will gather data on and examine the structure of the markets for several of the main goods and services schools and districts purchase. Research questions include the following: (1) Why are some districts more competitive markets than others? Do demographic factors, such as language proficiency of students, limit the number of providers in a market? Do differences in local governance affect competitiveness? (2) Which goods and services lend themselves to more concentrated markets, and why? (3) What are the effects of a concentrated market? To what extent do contractors actually charge higher prices or offer lower quality goods and services when they have a greater share of the market? (4) Do these welfare implications differ if the contractors are not-for-profit versus for-profit, and how? (5) How have states and/or districts tried to promote competition through regulation? How should they?
About Nora Gordon

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