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The Influence of the Elderly on School Spending in a Median Voter Framework


  • Deborah Fletcher

    () (Department of Economics, Miami University)

  • Lawrence W. Kenny

    () (Department of Economics, University of Florida)


How do the elderly influence school spending if they are a minority of the population? We estimate the determinants of school spending in a median voter model, comparing four assumptions about how the elderly influence the identity of the median voter. Using a county-level panel, we find that elderly preferences are best characterized by assuming all elderly or all elderly migrants vote with the poor. Having more elderly results in a median voter who is further down the community's income distribution. This median voter is poorer, which lowers preferred school spending, and faces a lower tax price, which raises preferred school spending. The evidence suggests that the income effect is slightly larger than the price effect, so the elderly on net cause a very small drop in spending. Thus the widespread concern about the negative impact of population aging on school funding seems to be misplaced. © 2008 American Education Finance Association

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah Fletcher & Lawrence W. Kenny, 2008. "The Influence of the Elderly on School Spending in a Median Voter Framework," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 3(3), pages 283-315, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:3:y:2008:i:3:p:283-315

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luiz Mello & Simone Schotte & Erwin R. Tiongson & Hernan Winkler, 2017. "Greying the Budget: Ageing and Preferences over Public Policies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 70-96, February.
    2. repec:spr:reihed:v:59:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11162-017-9453-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Figlio, David N. & Fletcher, Deborah, 2012. "Suburbanization, demographic change and the consequences for school finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1144-1153.
    4. Brunner, Eric J. & Ross, Stephen L. & Simonsen, Becky K., 2015. "Homeowners, renters and the political economy of property taxation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 38-49.
    5. Paul N. Thompson & Joseph Whitley, 2017. "The effect of school district and municipal government financial health information on local tax election outcomes: evidence from fiscal stress labels in Ohio," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 170(3), pages 265-288, March.
    6. Brunner, Eric J. & Ross, Stephen L., 2010. "Is the median voter decisive? Evidence from referenda voting patterns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 898-910, December.
    7. Rajashri Chakrabarti & Max Livingston & Joydeep Roy, 2014. "Did Cuts in State Aid During the Great Recession Lead to Changes in Local Property Taxes?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 9(4), pages 383-416, October.
    8. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard & Sieg, Holger, 2012. "The intergenerational conflict over the provision of public education," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 255-268.
    9. Haug, Peter, 2009. "Shadow Budgets, Fiscal Illusion and Municipal Spending: The Case of Germany," IWH Discussion Papers 9/2009, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    10. Brunner, Eric J. & Johnson, Erik B., 2016. "Intergenerational conflict and the political economy of higher education funding," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 73-87.

    More about this item


    elderly; aging population; school spending; median voter model;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid


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