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The Effects of School District Consolidation on Educational Cost and Quality


Author Info

  • Nora Gordon

    (University of California, San Diego, and National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Brian Knight

    (Brown University and National Bureau of Economic Research)


We examine the effects of both whole-grade sharing and administrative consolidations of local school districts in Iowa in the 1990s, the majority of which were induced by state fiscal incentives. We find no effects of either sharing or consolidation on the pupil-teacher ratio, enrollments, or dropout rates. In terms of revenues, we find evidence of temporary increases in state aid, as predicted by the state incentives. This increased state aid, however, is not offset by changes in local revenue and thus total revenue increases. We find a corresponding increase in local expenditures, although this increase was smaller than the increase in revenues, resulting in an increased surplus. Although we lack detailed quality data on student outcomes, these findings suggest an absence of efficiency gains from either whole-grade sharing or consolidation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by in its journal Public Finance Review.

Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 408-430

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Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:36:y:2008:i:4:p:408-430

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Keywords: school district consolidation; school district reorganization; whole-grade sharing;


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Cited by:
  1. Gordon, Nora & Knight, Brian, 2009. "A spatial merger estimator with an application to school district consolidation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 752-765, June.
  2. John Leach & A. Abigail Payne & Steve Chan, 2010. "The Effects of School Board Consolidation and Financing on Student Performance," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-02, McMaster University.
  3. Hazans, Mihails, 2010. "Teacher Pay, Class Size and Local Governments: Evidence from the Latvian Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 5291, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Reingewertz, Yaniv, 2012. "Do municipal amalgamations work? Evidence from municipalities in Israel," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 240-251.
  5. Billger, Sherrilyn M. & Beck, Frank D., 2009. "The Determinants of High School Closures: Lessons from Longitudinal Data throughout Illinois," IZA Discussion Papers 4641, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).


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