The Effect of School Consolidations

What is the impact of school consolidations on student achievement? The authors follow all students in the 2nd and 4th grade through a recent wave of school consolidations. They find a small negative effect in the short run that seems to fade out.

Time period:


Target group:

Public schools

Number of participants:

135.903 students in the 2nd-4th grade.


In 2010-2011, 59 out of 98 municipalities consolidated schools by closing, merging, and expanding them, leaving approximately 15% of all students affected by the consolidations.

We follow all 2nd and 4th graders from one year prior to consolidation and then up to four years after.    


Based on a comprehensive data collection, we identify and describe three types of school consolidation: 134 closing schools, 96 school mergers, and 82 school expansions.

This project then examines the impact of school consolidation on individual student achievement by employing a difference-in-differences (DID) strategy on detailed, student-level data. Briefly described, we compare the achievement of the same student before and after the consolidation period and then compare the achievement gain with the achievement gains of students not exposed to school consolidations.


We find that school consolidation generally has adverse effects on student achievement in the short run and that these adverse effects are most pronounced for students exposed to school closings.

The effects appear to weaken within few years, suggesting that at least part of the effect is due to disruption.

We interpret the results as evidence that a disruption cost exists but that the magnitude is not larger than could be compensated for by, for example, smaller class sizes or having teacher’s aides.    


Beuchert, L. V., Humlum, M. K., Nielsen, H.S., and Smith, N (2016). The Short-Term Effects of School Consolidation on Student Achievement: Evidence of Disruption? IZA DP No. 10195