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ERIC Number: ED498898
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jul
Pages: 25
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 28
The Effects of Catholic Schooling on Civic Participation. CIRCLE Working Paper 09
Dee, Thomas S.
Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)
The United States has an extensive network of publicly financed and managed schools and provides almost no financial support to private schools. One of the most fundamental justifications for the status quo is the hypothesis that the regulation of private schools cannot adequately ensure that the desired social benefits of schooling will be produced. In particular, there is concern that private schools may focus on producing skills and knowledge with clear individual benefits and place less value on the external social benefits that are derived from instilling a variety of civic values and beliefs. In this study, the author presents new empirical evidence on this issue by evaluating the relative effects of Catholic schooling on civic participation as an adult. This evidence is based on two nationally representative longitudinal surveys conducted by the US Department of Education: High School and Beyond (HS&B) and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS88). He finds that students who attended Catholic school in 10th grade were substantially more likely to vote as adults and that this relationship is generally robust to conditioning on a wide variety of observed demographic, socioeconomic and attitudinal measures. He then attempts to assess whether these results reflect uncorrected selection biases by exploiting three of the instrumental variables that have been employed in recent studies of other youth outcomes. He finds that bivariate-probit and 2SLS estimates based on these instruments suggest that Catholic schooling has even larger effects on voter turnout and possibly negative effects on volunteering. However, he then assesses whether these instruments provide a valid basis for identifying the effects of Catholic schooling using an approach introduced by Altonji, Elder and Taber (2002). The results suggest that system estimates based on these instruments may often be plagued by large, confounding biases. He concludes that, though there is a robust partial correlation between Catholic schooling and adult civic engagement, one cannot completely dismiss the possibility that this reflects selection biases. Nonetheless, the lack of clear evidence that Catholic schools are inferior at promoting adult civic participation does raise questions about the effectiveness of public schools at achieving one of their most fundamental goals. An appendix presenting additional data is included. (Contains 21 footnotes and 8 tables.) [This working paper was produced by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE).]
Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). University of Maryland, School of Public Policy, 2101 Van Munching Hall, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-2790; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Academy of Education, Washington, DC.; Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States