While enrollment in Catholic schools is rising in the global south, it is declining in many Western countries. Providing a quality and holistic education experience remains essential in both developed and developing countries, especially for disadvantaged groups. But in addition, in developed countries, trade-offs may have to be confronted to stem the decline in enrollment that affects the financial sustainability of schools. Building on a presentation made at the closing plenary of OIEC’s World Congress in New York, this paper focuses on the United States where enrollment in Catholic schools has been dropping for more than 50 years. In the absence of state support for Catholic schools and in a context of rising operating costs and therefore tuition, the decline in enrollment is due in part to a lack of affordability of schools given high out-of-pocket costs paid by parents. But other factors related to perceptions about Catholic schools also play a role. To stem the decline in enrollment, market research can help, including to assess how favorably Catholic and other types of schools are perceived in the population. The paper relies on data collected for the National Catholic Education Association to compare favorability ratings by type of schools and assess factors associated with these perceptions.
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Wodon, Q. (2021). Declining Enrollment in Catholic Schools in the West and Insights from the United States. Journal of Catholic Education. https://doi.org/10.15365/joce.2401182021