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Are Public Subsidies to Higher Education Regressive?

  • William R. Johnson

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Virginia)

This article estimates the dollar amount of public higher education subsidies received by U.S. youth and examines the distribution of subsidies and the taxes that finance them across parental and student income levels. Although youths from high-income families obtain more benefit from higher education subsidies, high-income households pay sufficiently more in taxes that the net effect of the spending and associated taxation is distributionally neutral or mildly progressive. These results are robust to alternative assumptions and are consistent with Hansen and Weisbrod's earlier celebrated findings for California, although not with the conclusions often drawn from those findings. © 2006 American Education Finance Association

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/edfp.2006.1.3.288
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Education Finance and Policy.

Volume (Year): 1 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 288-315

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:1:y:2006:i:3:p:288-315
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  1. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  2. Hansen, W Lee, 1970. "Income Distribution Effects of Higher Education," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 335-40, May.
  3. Hartman, Robert W, 1972. "Equity Implications of State Tuition Policy and Student Loans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S142-S71, Part II, .
  4. Pechman, Joseph A, 1972. "Note on the Intergenerational Transfer of Public Higher-Education Benefits," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S256-59, Part II, .
  5. Enrico Moretti, 2002. "Estimating the Social Return to Higher Education: Evidence From Longitudinal and Repeated Cross-Sectional Data," NBER Working Papers 9108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. W. Lee Hansen & Burton A. Weisbrod, 1969. "The Distribution of Costs and Direct Benefits of Public Higher Education: The Case of California," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 4(2), pages 176-191.
  7. W. Lee Hansen & Burton A. Weisbrod, 1971. "On the Distribution of Costs and Benefits of Public Higher Education: Reply," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 6(3), pages 363-374.
  8. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1999. "General Equilibrium Cost Benefit Analysis of Education and Tax Policies," NBER Working Papers 6881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gordon C. Winston, 1995. "Capital and Capital Service Costs in 2700 US Colleges and Universities," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-33, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  10. Gary A. Moore, 1978. "Equity Effects of Higher Education Finance and Tuition Grants in New York State," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 13(4), pages 482-501.
  11. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  12. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
  13. Gordon C. Winston & Yen, I.C., 1995. "Costs, Prices, Subsidies, and Aid in U.S. Higher Education," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-32, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  14. Johnson, George E, 1984. "Subsidies for Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 303-18, July.
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