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School quality and Massachusetts enrollment shifts in the context of tax limitations

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  • Katharine L. Bradbury
  • Karl E. Case
  • Chirstopher J. Mayer

Abstract

Like most states, Massachusetts underwent a large shift in public school enrollment between the 1980s and 1990s, requiring a number of sizable fiscal and educational adjustments by individual school districts. Between 1980 and 1989, the number of students in kindergarten through grade 12 fell 21 percent, from 1.04 million to 825,000. As children of baby boomers reached school age, the picture changed and enrollments grew more than 90,000 over the next seven years. These aggregate trends gloss over even more marked shifts at the local level. This article investigates the degree to which the constraints of proposition 2 1/2, and other factors such as demographic and economic shifts and differences in school quality, affected the adjustments that both local governments and households made to demographically driven turnaround in enrollment growth. The authors report three major findings: (1) Net public school enrollment changes are positively related to differences across communities in school quality. (2) Shifts in enrollments were much more pronounced in the 1990s, when aggregate enrollments were rising and the economy was improving. (3) Proposition 2 1/2 appears to have significantly altered the pattern of enrollment changes, with families with students moving to districts less constrained by this property tax limit.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its journal New England Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (1998)
Issue (Month): Jul ()
Pages: 3-20

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1998:i:jul:p:3-20

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Keywords: Taxation ; Local finance ; Local government;

References

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  1. Karl E. Case & Christopher J. Mayer, 1995. "The housing cycle in Eastern Massachusetts: variations among cities and towns," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 24-40.
  2. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  3. Katharine L. Bradbury, 1997. "Property tax limits and local fiscal behavior: did Massachusetts cities and towns spend too little on town services under proposition 2 1/2?," Working Papers 97-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Weil, David N., 1989. "The baby boom, the baby bust, and the housing market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 235-258, May.
  5. David M. Cutler & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1997. "Restraining the Leviathan: Property Tax Limitation in Massachusetts," NBER Working Papers 6196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Karl E. Case, 1986. "The market for single-family homes in the Boston area," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 38-48.
  7. T. A. Downes & D. N. Figlio, . "School Finance Reforms, Tax Limits, and Student Performance: Do Reforms Level Up or Dumb Down?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1142-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  8. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas A. Downes, 2002. "Do state governments matter?: a review of the evidence on the impact on educational outcomes of the changing role of the states in the financing of public education," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 143-180.
  2. Katharine Bradbury & Bo Zhao, 2007. "Measuring disparities in non-school costs and revenue capacity among Massachusetts cities and towns," Working Papers 06-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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