Productivity in Education: The Quintessential Upstream Industry
Using consistent test score data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and data on per-pupil spending, I show that the productivity of American public schools fell by approximately half from 1970 to 2000. The most reliable international data also suggest that productivity in American public schools is lower than that of numerous other industrialized countries, including the remaining English-speaking ones. I explore explanations for the decline in productivity, including changing sociodemographics, Baumol's “cost disease,” rising wages of female college graduates, the increasing emphasis on educating disadvantaged children, rising market power, and the education sector's relative decrease in pay for performance. I review evidence that suggests that schools raise their productivity and use of pay for performance when they face competition. I also describe results that indicate that individual teachers have important, distinctive effects on achievement.
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Volume (Year): 71 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
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