Study: Vouchers kept Milwaukee Catholic parishes open, but at a cost to religious activity

The expansion of private-school vouchers in Milwaukee prevented Catholic parishes from closing and merging, but also led to a significant decline in participating churches' donations and religious activity, a new study says.

The study suggests the Milwaukee voucher program since 1999 led to a decline in non-school Catholic church revenue by $60 million, at least amid the more than 70 Milwaukee Archdiocese parishes studied by the authors. The findings raise new questions about the impact that expanding private-school voucher programs could have on religious life in America, at a time when voucher programs are expanding and the number of people claiming religious affiliation is declining.

"It's a complicated story, because vouchers are good in terms of keeping parishes open, but they seem to be changing what happens within the parishes," said Daniel Hungerman, an associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame who led the study released Monday. The National Bureau of Economic Research is circulating it as a working paper.
continue at JS

Go read the rest.  Important food for thought.

Is this really a voucher problem though, and not just the general attrition of Catholicism in the US?

1 comment:

JoshD said...

I admit I am not an economist so I will be humble enough to acknowledge that I might be missing something, but it seems to me that there would be a direct connection between the fact that these parishioners who cannot afford to send their children to the parish schools and subsequently require assistance, would also be able to afford little to give to the parish itself. Now arguments can be made for encouraging truly sacrificial giving, and the cityscape of Milwaukee and so many other urban areas are dotted with the steeples and domes of countless churches built by immigrants who had nothing, but that doesn't change the principle reality that these families receiving vouchers are quite tight on money to begin with.