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Economies of Scale, School Violence, and the Optimal Size of Schools



In this paper we argue that policy in relation to education has relied too extensively on the more easily measured costs of production to support a common conclusion of economies of scale in school and/or district size. We argue that there are external costs that increase with size but that can be measured less easily that could offset this case. This would imply that the tendency within the education profession to advocate ever larger school sizes is premature at best. To make our case, we model the choice of school size to emphasize that costs, such as school violence, that are born by both students and their parents but not (necessarily) by education administrators may result in school sizes that are too big from the perspective of school users. In the second and third parts of the paper we introduce evidence to suggest that school violence is one of these external costs.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Stephen Ferris & Edwin G. West, 2002. "Economies of Scale, School Violence, and the Optimal Size of Schools," Carleton Economic Papers 02-01, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:02-01

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    1. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, 2001. "Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 203-232, February.
    2. Ambrose Leung, 2002. "Delinquency, Social Institutions, and Capital Accumulation," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(3), pages 420-420, September.
    3. Garoupa, Nuno, 2000. "The Economics of Organized Crime and Optimal Law Enforcement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 278-288, April.
    4. Weitzer, Ronald, 1996. "Racial discrimination in the criminal justice system: Findings and problems in the literature," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 309-322.
    5. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    6. Nicola Persico, 2002. "Racial Profiling, Fairness, and Effectiveness of Policing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1472-1497, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Saïd Hanchane & Tarek Mostafa, 2007. "School Choice : income, Peer effect and the formation of Inequalities," Working Papers halshs-00009533, HAL.
    2. Anderson, D. Mark & Hansen, Benjamin & Walker, Mary Beth, 2013. "The minimum dropout age and student victimization," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 66-74.
    3. Leung, Ambrose & Ferris, J. Stephen, 2008. "School size and youth violence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 318-333, February.
    4. Wei, Hsi-Sheng & Williams, James Herbert & Chen, Ji-Kang & Chang, Hsiu-Yu, 2010. "The effects of individual characteristics, teacher practice, and school organizational factors on students' bullying: A multilevel analysis of public middle schools in Taiwan," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 137-143, January.
    5. Gabriela Schütz, 2009. "Educational institutions and equality of opportunity," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 34, November.
    6. Schwartz, Amy Ellen & Stiefel, Leanna & Wiswall, Matthew, 2016. "Are all schools created equal? Learning environments in small and large public high schools in New York City," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 272-290.
    7. Tarek Mostafa & Saïd Hanchane, 2007. "Educational Quality, Communities, and Public School Choice: a Theoretical Analysis," Working Papers halshs-00177630, HAL.

    More about this item


    econoimcs of eduction; school size; school violence; schooling externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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