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Demographic structure and the political economy of public education

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  • James M. Poterba

    (Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between demographic structure and the level of government spending on K-12 education. Panel data for the states of the United States over the 1960-1990 period suggests that an increase in the fraction of elderly residents in a jurisdiction is associated with a significant reduction in per-child educational spending. This reduction is particularly large when the elderly residents and the school-age population are from different racial groups. Variation in the size of the school-age population does not result in proportionate changes in education spending, thus, students in states with larger school-age populations receive lower per-student spending than those in states with smaller numbers of potential students. These results provide support for models of generational competition in the allocation of public sector resources. They also suggest that the effect of cohort size on government-mediated transfers must be considered in analyzing how cohort size affects economic well-being.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 16 (1997)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 48-66

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:16:y:1997:i:1:p:48-66

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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  1. David M. Cutler & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1993. "Demographic Characteristics and the Public Bundle," NBER Working Papers 4283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Sam Peltzman, 1992. "The Political Economy of the Decline of American Public Education," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State 78, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  10. Downes, Thomas A, 1996. " An Examination of the Structure of Governance in California School Districts before and after Proposition 13," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 86(3-4), pages 279-307, March.
  11. Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1977. "Voting in a Local School Election: A Micro Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(1), pages 30-42, February.
  12. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  13. Megdal, Sharon Bernstein, 1984. "A model of local demand for education," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 13-30, July.
  14. Borcherding, Thomas E & Deacon, Robert T, 1972. "The Demand for the Services of Non-Federal Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 891-901, December.
  15. John R. Lott, Jr., 1987. "Why Is Education Publicly Provided? A Critical Survey," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 7(2), pages 475-501, Fall.
  16. Rubinfeld, Daniel L. & Shapiro, Perry, 1989. "Micro-estimation of the demand for schooling : Evidence from Michigan and Massachusetts," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 381-398, August.
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