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Public education supply and student performance


  • Michael Marlow


This paper develops a model of public exchange whereby voters and education policy makers exchange with one another within school districts. Because school district consolidation lowers alternatives to voters-parents, consolidation is hypothesized to raise public education spending because weakened intergovernmental competition allows policy makers to promote their own utility, rather than that of constituents. Models of public education spending and academic performance are estimated over 1988-1990. While evidence indicates little support for the traditional treatment of the Leviathan hypothesis that greater competition lowers public spending, this paper argues that education spending by itself does not fully provide a valid test of the Leviathan hypothesis since spending, by itself, does not necessarily indicate the quality of public education programmes. Empirical evidence indicates that greater numbers of schools and school districts promote higher student achievement as evidenced by higher math and verbal SAT scores, math proficiency of 8th graders, and lower high school drop-out rates. Evidence therefore suggests that, while greater numbers of school districts and schools are, to some degree, associated with higher public education spending, higher student achievement appears to follow as well.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Marlow, 1997. "Public education supply and student performance," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(5), pages 617-626.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:29:y:1997:i:5:p:617-626
    DOI: 10.1080/000368497326813

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amjad, Rashid, 1984. "The management of Pakistan's economy 1947-82," MPRA Paper 35850, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Amjad, Rashid, 1987. "Human resource development: the Asian experience in employment and manpower planning - an overview," MPRA Paper 38135, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marlow, Michael L., 1999. "Spending, school structure, and public education quality. Evidence from California," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 89-106, February.
    2. Misra, Kaustav & Grimes, Paul W. & Rogers, Kevin E., 2013. "The effects of community social capital on school performance: A spatial approach," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 106-111.
    3. Steve Bradley & Jim Taylor, 2010. "Diversity, Choice and the Quasi-market: An Empirical Analysis of Secondary Education Policy in England," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(1), pages 1-26, February.
    4. Thapa, Amrit, 2013. "Does private school competition improve public school performance? The case of Nepal," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 358-366.
    5. Misra, Kaustav & Grimes, Paul W. & Rogers, Kevin E., 2012. "Does competition improve public school efficiency? A spatial analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1177-1190.
    6. Oliver Himmler, 2009. "The Effects of School Competition on Academic Achievement and Grading Standards," CESifo Working Paper Series 2676, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Garcia-Diaz, Rocio & del Castillo, Ernesto & Cabral, René, 2016. "School competition and efficiency in elementary schools in Mexico," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 23-34.

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