A large empirical literature has shown that user fees significantly deter public service utilization in developing countries. While most of these results reflect partial equilibrium analysis, we find that the nationwide abolition of public school fees in Kenya in 2003 led to no increase in net public enrollment rates, but rather a dramatic shift toward private schooling. Results suggest this divergence between partial- and general-equilibrium effects is partially explained by social interactions: the entry of poorer pupils into free education contributed to the exit of their more affluent peers.
Bold, T.; Kimenyi, M.; Mwabu, G.; Sandefur, J. Why Did Abolishing Fees Not Increase Public School Enrollment in Kenya? Center for Global Development, Washington DC, USA (2011) 28 pp. [Center for Global Development Working Paper 271]