Voucher systems have been vastly discussed on their ability to provide better quality education and more efficient school systems, but also on the role they play on segregation mechanisms through education markets. With free school choice, parents’ preferences and the trade-offs they take into account become relevant, as they are free to decide between educational alternatives and are not restricted to their geographical location’s school assignment. In this context, the Chilean case is a singular one due to its nationwide, unrestricted, system implementation. Chilean household’s preferences have shown to be complex, heterogeneous, and tightly bound to socioeconomic attributes, as well as deeply intertwined with residential location, especially in Santiago, being a source for social and spatial inequities distributed around the city. Comprehending household’s sensitivities on both of these choices and their interactions is essential for understanding the city’s complex urban and social structure.
This paper seeks to understand the existing bond between school and residential location choices through discrete choice models. By constructing a dataset based on Santiago’s 2012 travel survey, a latent class mixed logit model was estimated, capturing observed and unobserved factors that determine household’s preferences on both choices. The latent class approach defines two different choice strategies: households that prioritize residential location, and households that prioritize school choice. This enables characterization of households’ preferences and choice structures.
Main findings suggest both strategies are identifiable through household’s characteristics, capturing heterogeneity in household’s preferences. In addition, unobserved factors linked to access to office opportunities and neighborhood’s socioeconomic level in both school and residential locations explain the correlation binding both choices, capturing heterogeneity. Results suggest that, for both segments, distance tends to be a relevant attribute when choosing. Also, households that prioritize school over residential location tend to be more elastic to socioeconomic characteristics in comparison to households that prioritize residence over school. These ‘school first’ decision-makers are characterized by higher incomes, possession of cars, and more residential mobility due to not being homeowners. Understanding this bond, and household’s behavior regarding it, should allow policymakers to better plan for the reduction of social and spatial urban inequalities.