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On the Political Economy of Education Subsidies

  • Fernandez, Raquel
  • Rogerson, Richard

Standard models of public education provision predict an implicit transfer of resources from higher-income individuals toward lower-income individuals. Many studies have documented that public higher education involves a transfer in the reverse direction. We show that this pattern of redistribution is an equilibrium outcome in a model in which education is only partially publicly provided and individuals vote over the extent to which it is subsidized. We characterize economies in which poorer individuals are effectively excluded from obtaining an education and their tax payments help offset the cost of education obtained by others. We show that increased inequality in the income distribution makes this outcome more likely. Copyright 1995 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 62 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 249-62

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Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:62:y:1995:i:2:p:249-62
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  1. Ljungqvist, Lars, 1993. "Economic underdevelopment : The case of a missing market for human capital," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 219-239, April.
  2. Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1989. "Educational Subsidies When Relative Income Matters," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 640-52, July.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Dewatripont, M & Roland, G, 1992. "Economic Reform and Dynamic Political Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 703-30, October.
  5. Johnson, George E, 1984. "Subsidies for Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 303-18, July.
  6. Saint-Paul, G. & Verdier, T., 1991. "Education, Democracy and growth," DELTA Working Papers 91-27, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  7. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  8. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
  9. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  10. Creedy, John & Francois, Patrick, 1990. "Financing higher education and majority voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 181-200, November.
  11. Stiglitz, J. E., 1974. "The demand for education in public and private school systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 349-385, November.
  12. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  13. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
  14. Radner, Roy & Miller, L S, 1970. "Demand and Supply in U. S. Higher Education: A Progress Report," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 326-34, May.
  15. Alesina, Alberto, 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 651-78, August.
  16. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
  17. Peltzman, Sam, 1973. "The Effect of Government Subsidies-in-Kind on Private Expenditures: The Case of Higher Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-27, Jan.-Feb..
  18. Lott, John R, Jr, 1990. "An Explanation for Public Provision of Schooling: The Importance of Indoctrination," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 199-231, April.
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