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A Model of Public Education and Income Inequality with a Subsistence Constraint

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  • Kevin Sylwester

    () (Southern Illinois University)

Abstract

This paper constructs a model in which incomes do not necessarily converge under a public education system. School attendance creates an opportunity cost of foregone income that poorer agents might need. These poorer agents, unlike high-income agents, allocate less time to schooling and so are less able to increase their human capital. However, some agents in a poverty trap might actually have higher income, at least temporarily, than do agents who do not fall into this trap. The model also shows why better public education systems can lead to more income inequality and why a gradual allocation of resources to public education may prove more beneficial than a sudden, large shift of resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Sylwester, 2002. "A Model of Public Education and Income Inequality with a Subsistence Constraint," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 144-158, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:69:1:y:2002:p:144-158
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sylwester, Kevin, 2002. "Can education expenditures reduce income inequality?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 43-52, February.
    2. Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 755-776.
    3. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52.
    4. 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 818-834, August.
    5. Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1986. "The Public Subsidization of Education and Health in Developing Countries: A Review of Equity and Efficiency," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 1(1), pages 111-129, January.
    6. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1995. "On the Political Economy of Education Subsidies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 249-262.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gustavo A. Marrero & Juan G. Rodriguez, 2012. "Macroeconomic determinants of inequality of opportunity and effort in the US: 1970-2009," Working Papers 249, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Bernhard Eckwert & Itzhak Zilcha, 2007. "The Effect of Better Information on Income Inequality," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(2), pages 287-307, August.
    3. Catalina GutiƩrrez & Ryuichi Tanaka, 2009. "Inequality and education decisions in developing countries," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(1), pages 55-81, March.

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