Publicly funded education markets


 3 June 2019  Paris  

Education services are fundamental for economic and social well-being. They not only directly boost public sector productivity, but also the productivity of workers across the economy by improving their skills, increasing their capacity to add value, and giving them the ability to adapt to new ways of working. Furthermore, giving low-income citizens the ability to choose can reduce inequalities in access to high-quality services. Indeed many governments have adopted market mechanisms, such as student choice, payments that follow student choices (or vouchers), and greater autonomy for providers, in order to achieve better quality outcomes.


However, competition agencies face serious challenges when advocating (and enforcing) in education markets, as there are numerous features of these markets that can prevent, restrict or distort competition. For example, competitive incentives can be smothered by capacity constraints, uninformed passive consumers, and a lack of exit risk, or distorted by competitive neutrality issues. Furthermore, there are other policy goals that are important to governments. For example, providing equal opportunity for all, providing the skills required to fulfil an industrial strategy, or prioritising the needs of the highest or lowest achievers. Competition must therefore be carefully designed in order to complement and not contradict those goals.


In June 2019, the OECD will hold a roundtable discussion to share experiences on what has worked well, and what has worked poorly, and hence to understand how competition can best be used to help policymakers achieve their goals.



Simon BURGESS Bio  
Professor University of Bristol, UK

Miguel URQUIOLA Bio 
Columbia University, USA 

Director of strategy, FutureLearn, UK

Senior Councillor on Education, OECD



Challenges in designing publicly funded healthcare markets, 2018

Choice, competition and markets: education, healthcare and public services, 2017

School choice and school vouchers: An OECD perspective, 2017

Regulating Publicly Funded Private Schools: A Literature Review on Equity and Effectiveness, 2016

The Funding of School Education, 2017

Responsive School Systems, 2018




» Designing Publicly Funded Healthcare Markets

» Best Practice Competition Roundtables 

» OECD Competition



Designing Publicly Funded Healthcare Markets, 2018

Competition in Public Markets, 2017

Competition in Hospital Services, 2012

Competition in the Provision of Hospital Services, 2005 


Liberalisation and competition intervention in regulated sectors

Pro-competitive Policy Reforms

OECD best practice roundtables on competition

More OECD work on competition


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