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A normative justification of compulsory education

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  • Alessandro Balestrino
  • Lisa Grazzini
  • Annalisa Luporini

Abstract

Using a household production model of educational choices, we characterise a free-market situation in which some agents (high wagers) fully educate their children and spend a sizable amount of resources on them, while others (low wagers) educate them only partially. The free-market equilibrium is iniquitous, both because the households have di¤erent resources and because the children have di¤erent access to education. Public policy is thus called for, for vertical as well as horizontal equity purposes. Conventional wisdom has it that both objectives could be achieved using price control instruments, i.e. income taxes and price subsidies. We find instead that income taxes reduce equality of opportunity and that price subsidies cannot remedy this. Quantity controls become necessary: a compulsory education package, financed by a redistributive tax system, achieves both types of equity. Redistributive taxation and compulsory education are therefore best seen as complementary policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Balestrino & Lisa Grazzini & Annalisa Luporini, 2017. "A normative justification of compulsory education," CHILD Working Papers Series 48 JEL Classification: H4, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wchild:48
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    Cited by:

    1. Tang, Le & Sun, Shiyu & Yang, Weiguo, 2021. "Investments in human capital: The evidence from China’s new rural pension scheme," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 55(C).
    2. Pertti Haaparanta & Ravi Kanbur & Tuuli Paukkeri & Jukka Pirttilä & Matti Tuomala, 2019. "Promoting education under distortionary taxation: Equality of opportunity versus welfarism," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-18, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; In-kind transfers; Redistributive taxation.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

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