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All School Finance Equalizations Are Not Created Equal

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  • Caroline M. Hoxby

Abstract

School finance equalization has probably affected American schools more than any other reform of the last 30 years. Understanding it is a prerequisite for making optimal social investments in human capital. Yet, it is poorly understood. In this paper I explain why: it differs from conventional redistribution because it is based on property values, which are endogenous to schools' productivity, taste for education, and the school finance system itself. I characterize equalization schemes and show why some "level down" and others "level up." Schemes that strongly level down have unintended consequences: even poor districts can end up worse off. I also show how school finance equalization affects property prices, private school attendance, and student achievement. © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 116 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1189-1231

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1189-1231

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Web page: http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/

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  1. Thomas J. Nechyba, 1996. "A Computable General Equilibrium Model of Intergovernmental Aid," NBER Working Papers 5420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
  3. Hamilton, Bruce W, 1976. "Capitalization of Intrajurisdictional Differences in Local Tax Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 743-53, December.
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  5. repec:fth:prinin:387 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. David Card & A. Abigail Payne, 1998. "School Finance Reform, the Distribution of School Spending, and the Distribution of SAT Scores," NBER Working Papers 6766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert Manwaring & Steven Sheffrin, 1997. "Litigation, School Finance Reform, and Aggregate Educational Spending," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 107-127, May.
  8. Gerhard Glomm & B. Ravikumar, 1998. "Opting out of publicly provided services: A majority voting result," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 187-199.
  9. James R. Hines & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "The Flypaper Effect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 217-226, Fall.
  10. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  11. Silva, Fabio & Sonstelie, Jon, 1995. "Did Serrano Cause a Decline in School Spending," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(2), pages 199-215, June.
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