Voucher schemes aim to support better access to vital public services for previously disadvantaged or excluded groups. However, recent systematic reviews have highlighted that there are very few rigorous studies of the equity impacts of vouchers.
Morgan, C., Petrosino, A., & Fronius, T. (2013). A systematic review of the evidence of the impact of school voucher programmes in developing countries (EPPI report 2102). London: EPPI Centre.
This systematic review identified two studies that met the inclusion criteria. It found that Colombia and Pakistan voucher programmes increased private school enrolment amongst the countries’ poorest income groups, thus probably improving equity. The Pakistan programme resulted in girls being educated for less than it would have cost for the government to create public school spaces, while the Colombia programme cost rather more, but will most likely prove cost-effective in terms of long-term economic gains.
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Meyer, C. et al. (2011). The Impact of Vouchers on the Use and Quality of Health Goods and Services in Developing Countries: A Systematic Review (EPPI report 1905). London: EPPI-Centre.
Have health voucher programmes achieved their objectives? This study assesses and synthesises evidence on such programmes’ targeting and their effects on service usage, quality and efficiency, and on people’s health outcomes. It finds robust evidence that health voucher programmes can increase the use of health goods/services and modest evidence that they can effectively target specific populations and improve service quality. Overall, the evidence indicates that voucher programmes do not affect the health of populations. However, this conclusion was identified as unstable by a sensitivity analysis: one additional positive outcome variable would change the conclusion to robust evidence.
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