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Suburbanization, demographic change and the consequences for school finance

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  • Figlio, David N.
  • Fletcher, Deborah

Abstract

The existing literature on the relationship between the share of elderly in a community and the support for local public education has led to mixed results to date. One potential reason behind this is that the share of elderly in a community is endogenous, and it is very difficult to disentangle the effects of individuals aging in place from that of dynamic Tiebout sorting. The point of this paper is to carefully document the degree to which aging in place has occurred in the American suburbs, and to estimate the degree to which it has influenced school finance once the initial settlers of these suburbs were no longer the parents of school-aged children. We hand-match data from the 1950 and 1960 Censuses of Population and Housing to more recent data to link postwar suburban development to later school finance. Using a novel method for identifying the causal effects of aging in place, we find that the percentage of elderly adults in a school district is negatively related to the level of support for public schooling, and that this is particularly true for school districts in metropolitan areas where the school-aged population is more heavily nonwhite relative to the elderly population.

Suggested Citation

  • Figlio, David N. & Fletcher, Deborah, 2012. "Suburbanization, demographic change and the consequences for school finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1144-1153.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:11:p:1144-1153
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.07.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    2. Michael B. Berkman & Eric Plutzer, 2004. "Gray Peril or Loyal Support? The Effects of the Elderly on Educational Expenditures-super-," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1178-1192.
    3. Hilber, Christian A.L. & Mayer, Christopher, 2009. "Why do households without children support local public schools? Linking house price capitalization to school spending," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 74-90, January.
    4. Miller, Cynthia, 1996. "Demographics and spending for public education: a test of interest group influence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 175-185, April.
    5. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    6. Figlio, David N. & Fletcher, Deborah, 2012. "Suburbanization, demographic change and the consequences for school finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1144-1153.
    7. Ladd, Helen F. & Murray, Sheila E., 2001. "Intergenerational conflict reconsidered: county demographic structure and the demand for public education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 343-357, August.
    8. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2004. "What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and the Housing Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 591-604, June.
    9. Brunner, Eric & Balsdon, Ed, 2004. "Intergenerational conflict and the political economy of school spending," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 369-388, September.
    10. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-1296, December.
    11. Deborah Fletcher & Lawrence W. Kenny, 2008. "The Influence of the Elderly on School Spending in a Median Voter Framework," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 3(3), pages 283-315, July.
    12. Kenneth M. Johnson & Daniel T. Lichter, 2010. "Growing Diversity among America's Children and Youth: Spatial and Temporal Dimensions," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(1), pages 151-176.
    13. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
    14. Mehmet Serkan Tosun & Claudia Williamson & Pavel Yakovlev, 2007. "Population Aging, Elderly Migration and Education Spending: Intergenerational Conflict Revisited," Working Papers 07-003, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Economics;University of Nevada, Reno , Department of Resource Economics.
    15. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805.
    16. Thomas A. Downes & David N. Figlio, 1999. "Economic inequality and the provision of schooling," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 99-110.
    17. Harris, Amy Rehder & Evans, William N. & Schwab, Robert M., 2001. "Education spending in an aging America," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 449-472, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Lichter, 2013. "Integration or Fragmentation? Racial Diversity and the American Future," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(2), pages 359-391, April.
    2. repec:spr:reihed:v:59:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11162-017-9453-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Reiling, Rune Borgan, 2016. "Does size matter? Educational attainment and cohort size," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 73-89.
    4. Figlio, David N. & Fletcher, Deborah, 2012. "Suburbanization, demographic change and the consequences for school finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1144-1153.
    5. Kurban, Haydar & Gallagher, Ryan M. & Persky, Joseph J., 2015. "Demographic changes and education expenditures: A reinterpretation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 103-108.
    6. Brunner, Eric J. & Ross, Stephen L. & Simonsen, Becky K., 2015. "Homeowners, renters and the political economy of property taxation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 38-49.
    7. Saito, Hitoshi, 2017. "The effects of population ageing on public education in Japan : A reinterpretation using micro data," MPRA Paper 79848, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Patricia Funk & Stephan Litschig, 2017. "Policy Choices in Assembly versus Representative Democracy : Evidence from Swiss Communes," GRIPS Discussion Papers 17-07, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
    9. Brunner, Eric J. & Johnson, Erik B., 2016. "Intergenerational conflict and the political economy of higher education funding," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 73-87.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    School finance; Aging; Tiebout sorting; Demographic change; Suburbanization;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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