Working Paper


Contracting Out Schools at Scale: Evidence from Pakistan


Image of Lee Crawfurd

Lee Crawfurd

Center for Global Development

Can governments contract out the management of schools to private operators at scale? This paper estimates the effect of a school reform in Punjab, Pakistan, in which 4,276 poorly performing public primary schools (around 10 percent of the total) were contracted out to private operators in a single school year. These schools remain free to students and the private operator receives a perstudent subsidy equivalent to less than half of spending in government schools. Using a difference-in-difference framework we estimate that enrolment in converted schools increased by over 60 percent. Converted schools see a slight decline in overall average test scores, but this may be a composition effect rather than a treatment effect. Schools with the same number or fewer students as in the previous year saw no change in average test scores.

Author bios:


Crawfurd, L. 2018. Contracting Out Schools at Scale: Evidence from Pakistan. 18/022. RISE Working Paper Series.