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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline M. Hoxby, 2001. "All School Finance Equalizations are Not Created Equal," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1189-1231.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1189-1231.
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