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Workshop on School Enrollment Policies Print
Monday, 26 January 2009, 08:45 - 17:45

list of participants


Estelle Cantillon, ECARES, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Dirk Jacobs, GERME, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Workshop goals:

School choice, and in particular, school enrollment policies i.e. the rules that govern the conditions under which parents can register their children to the school of their choice are high on the public agenda in many countries. This is also the case in Belgium (more below on the policy context in Belgium). The public debate usually focuses on three broad issues:

  1. To what extent should the state influence the social mix in school populations? Relatedly, how can one avoid social and ethnic segregation?
  2. What balance (if any) to strike between freedom of choice and equal opportunities? A related question concerns the extent to which one should take revealed preferences into account.
  3. What balance (if any) to strike between non discrimination and equal opportunities?

Economists, education specialists and sociologists have all contributed to these questions, but they have not always engaged with each other to discuss findings.

The first purpose of this workshop is to bring together experts from these fields to take stock of the existing body of knowledge in their respective fields and foster discussions among them. This exercise will force experts to speak in a language that is accessible to the other disciplines and thus to a broader audience of policy-makers.

The second purpose of this workshop is to introduce a new dimension to the public debate on school enrollment policies in Belgium: the systematic analysis of how school enrollment rules impact behavior and thus performance (the degree to which the policy achieves its goals). “Market design” is the domain in economics that offers tools for such analysis. It can answer questions like: given a policy objective, how to set rules to achieve it in a best way possible? Combined with other approaches (sociology, ethics, education) that help define the policy objective, it can contribute to the design of optimal school enrollment policies.

The morning sessions will focus on summarizing what we know and what we don’t know about (1) the impact of selection and peer effects on school effectiveness, (2) preference formation and the school choice process, (3) consistency and conflict among different policy objectives. Each topic will be covered by two researchers from two different disciplines who will confront their views on the topic.

The morning sessions will provide the background for the afternoon talks devoted to market design as a tool to compare and design school enrollment rules. Practical cases will be discussed. The day will end with a round table of policymakers to discuss school enrollment policies in Belgium.

Target audience:

Combination of academics (education specialists, sociologists, economists), policy-makers and interest groups

Program :
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8:45 Registration
9:00 Welcome address
9:10 Selection and peer effects in schools
Vincent Dupriez, GIRSEF, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium - presentation
Stephen Gibbons, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics, UK - related paper - presentation
10:20 Preference formation and the school choice process
Simon Burgess, CMPO and Economics Department, Bristol University, UK - presentation
Agnès van Zanten, CNRS and Sciences Po, Paris, France - presentation
11:30 Coffee break
11:50 Consistency and conflicts among policy objectives
François Maniquet, CORE, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium - presentation
Christian Maroy, GIRSEF, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium - presentation
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Market design for school enrollment policies
Introduction: Estelle Cantillon - presentation
Parag Pathak, Economics Department, MIT, USA - presentation
Alvin E. Roth, Economics Department, Harvard University, USA - presentation
16:30 Coffee
16:45 Round table: Policy and institutional constraints on school enrollment policies in Belgium
Speakers : Dimo Kavadias, President of the Local Coordination Platform (LOP) Brussels (presentation); Jean-Pierre Verhaeghe, President of the Local Coordination Platform (LOP), Gent; Véronique Jamoulle, Deputy to the Brussels region and French Community ; Al Roth, Harvard University
18:00 End of workshop, drinks and light dinner

Location: 44, av Jeanne - 1050 Brussels - Salle Baugniet, ground floor
Contact: Nancy De Munck ( This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )
Funding for this workshop is provided by the European Research Council, under grant 208535 (MaDEM)