Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration


Robert Bifulco


Charter Schools, Cost Function, Housing Values, Location Decision, School Choice, Unintended Effects

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The dissertation is comprised of three essays, which study unintended effects of charter school programs. Chapter 1 evaluates the influence of charter schools on housing values. The dynamics between school quality and housing markets contribute to the isolation of disadvantaged students in low performing school districts. Charter schools reduce the link between residential location and school services, and hence potentially affect both property values and residential sorting. This chapter examines if charter schools influence the differences in housing prices between school districts and neighborhoods. I begin by developing a theoretical model identifying how charter schools influence school quality and how these changes potentially affect housing prices. Utilizing housing sale data for Upstate New York between 2000 and 2010, I estimate models comparing changes in housing price differences between school districts and neighborhoods. I find that charter schools do not influence the gap in housing prices between districts but affect the differences in housing values between high and low income neighborhoods in districts with charter schools.

Chapter 2 analyzes the location of charter schools in New York, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio. I begin by describing the finance, accountability, and authorizer policies in each state. Then, I derive location and enrollment incentives created by these policies. Estimated negative binomial models reveal consistency between location patterns and finance provisions. In states where charter school payments vary with district location, charter schools are more likely to locate in districts with high expenditures holding cost and performance constant. However, in states where charter school payments do not vary with district location, charter school location is not influenced by district expenditures. Compensations for enrolling disadvantaged students create location and enrollment incentives if they are sufficient enough to cover the costs of educating these students.

Chapter 3 examines how charter schools influence school district efficiency. Charter school opponents and proponents have been arguing for a long time about the effect of charter schools on district efficiency with very opposing views on the subject. Utilizing data for all New York State school districts from 1998 to 2009, I find that charter schools increase school district efficiency holding cost factors and district performance constant. The magnitude of the effect differs depending on the number of students enrolled in charter schools. The effect ranges between a 1.1 and 3.4 percent decrease in per pupil expenditures for enrollments between 50 and 5000 charter school students respectively. The effect is driven by efficiency gains in the provision of education for students in traditional public schools. The results are confirmed by several falsification tests.


Open Access