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Public Funding of Higher Education

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  • Jean-Marie Viaene
  • Itzhak Zilcha

Abstract

Recent criticism from different sides has expressed the view that, with scarce resources, there is little justification for massive public funding of higher education. Central to the debate is the conjecture that colleges and universities use their resources inefficiently and focus insufficiently on their mission to expand students’ human potential. Our aim in this paper is to examine the theoretical premises of this conjecture in a small open economy and uncover the conditions under which public investment in higher education is efficient and desirable. We analyze non-stationary equilibria of an OLG economy, characterized by perfect capital mobility, intergenerational transfers and a hierarchical education system. The government uses income tax revenues to finance basic education and support higher education that generates skilled labor. Given this, the following issues are considered: (a) the impact of education and international markets on the equilibrium number of low-skilled and skilled workers in each generation; (b) the economic efficiency of public subsidies to higher education in generating skilled human capital; (c) the endogenous support for a government’s educational policies found in a political equilibrium.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3606.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3606

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Keywords: hierarchical education; innate ability; capital mobility; education policy; low-skilled workers; skill formation;

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  1. William F. Blankenau & Nicole B. Simpson & Marc Tomljanovich, 2007. "Public Education Expenditures, Taxation, and Growth: Linking Data to Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 393-397, May.
  2. Su, Xuejuan, 2004. "The allocation of public funds in a hierarchical educational system," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2485-2510, December.
  3. Driskill, Robert A & Horowitz, Andrew W, 2002. "Investment in Hierarchical Human Capital," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 48-58, February.
  4. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Menbere Shiferaw, 2011. "Decomposing the education wage gap: everything but the kitchen sink," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue July, pages 243-272.
  5. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta, 2001. "Does Human Capital Matter for Growth in OECD Countries?: Evidence from Pooled Mean-Group Estimates," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 282, OECD Publishing.
  6. Diego Restuccia & Carlos Urrutia, 2004. "Intergenerational Persistence of Earnings: The Role of Early and College Education," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1354-1378, December.
  7. Garratt, Rod & Marshall, John M, 1994. "Public Finance of Private Goods: The Case of College Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 566-82, June.
  8. Eicher, Theo S, 1996. "Interaction between Endogenous Human Capital and Technological Change," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(1), pages 127-44, January.
  9. William Blankenau & Steven Cassou & Beth Ingram, 2007. "Allocating Government Education Expenditures Across K-12 and College Education," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 85-112, April.
  10. Zilcha, Itzhak, 2003. "Intergenerational transfers, production and income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 489-513, March.
  11. Blankenau, William, 2005. "Public schooling, college subsidies and growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 487-507, March.
  12. William Blankenau & Gabriele Camera, 2006. "A Simple Economic Theory of Skill Accumulation and Schooling Decisions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(1), pages 93-115, January.
  13. Bernhard Eckwert & Itzhak Zilcha, 2008. "Private Investment in Higher Education: Comparing Alternative Funding Schemes," CESifo Working Paper Series 2395, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Caucutt, Elizabeth M. & Kumar, Krishna B., 2003. "Higher education subsidies and heterogeneity: a dynamic analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1459-1502, June.
  15. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 1675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Greenaway, David & Nelson, Douglas, 2000. "The Assessment: Globalization and Labour-Market Adjustment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 1-11, Autumn.
  17. Arcalean, Calin & Schiopu, Ioana, 2010. "Public versus private investment and growth in a hierarchical education system," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 604-622, April.
  18. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 1995. "Competitive investment in higher education: The need for policy coordination," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 47(3-4), pages 393-400, March.
  19. Bevia, Carmen & Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Inigo, 2002. " Redistribution and Subsidies for Higher Education," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 104(2), pages 321-40, June.
  20. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1995. "On the Political Economy of Education Subsidies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 249-62, April.
  21. Johnson, George E, 1984. "Subsidies for Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 303-18, July.
  22. Gianni de Fraja, 2002. "The Design of Optimal Education Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 437-466.
  23. Glen, Andrew G. & Leemis, Lawrence M. & Drew, John H., 2004. "Computing the distribution of the product of two continuous random variables," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 451-464, January.
  24. Niven Winchester, 2008. "Searching for the Smoking Gun: Did Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(265), pages 141-156, 06.
  25. Su, Xuejuan, 2006. "Endogenous determination of public budget allocation across education stages," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 438-456, December.
  26. Viaene, Jean-Marie & Zilcha, Itzhak, 2002. "Capital markets integration, growth and income distribution," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 301-327, February.
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