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Public Education for the Minority,Private Education for the Majority

  • Gilat Levy

Public provision of private goods such as education is usually viewed as a form of redistribution in kind. However, does it arise when income redistribution is feasible as well? In this paper I analyse a two-dimensional model of political decision making. Society has to choose both the tax rate and the allocation of the revenues between income redistribution and public provision of education. The political process that I analyse involves endogenous parties. Parties have a unique role in the model; I assume that parties increase the commitment ability of politicians and, as a result, increase the ability of different groups in society to compromise with one another. I find that public provision of education arises as an anti-majoritarian outcome; public provision of education arises only when those who benefit from education, e.g., voters with children, are a minority. The reason is that when education is consumed only by a minority, such redistribution in kind is 'cheap' relative to universal income redistribution, i.e., it can be effectively provided even with low taxes. Public provision of education arises then as a political compromise offered by the party of the poor who benefit from education and the rich voters who prefer low taxes. Thus, when those who benefit from education are a minority, it is publicly provided. When those who benefit from education are a majority, they have to buy private education, since there is no public provision of this good.

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Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series with number /2004/470.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stitep:/2004/470
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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  1. Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
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  4. Stiglitz, J. E., 1974. "The demand for education in public and private school systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 349-385, November.
  5. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
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  7. Bearse, P. & Glomm, G. & Jeneba, E., 1999. "Composition of Government Budget, Non-Single Peakedness and Majority Voting," Papers 9903, Michigan State - Econometrics and Economic Theory.
  8. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1996. "Public Provision of Private Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 57-84, February.
  9. Osborne, Martin J & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96, February.
  10. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 379-397, December.
  11. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  12. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1989. "Public Provision Of Private Goods And The Redistribution Of Income," Papers 36, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  13. Gradstein, Mark & Kaganovich, Michael, 2003. "Aging Population and Education Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 3950, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Barzel, Yoram, 1973. "Private Schools and Public School Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 174-86, Jan.-Feb..
  15. Bearse, P. & Glomm, G. & Janeba, E., 2000. "Why poor countries rely mostly on redistribution in-kind," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 463-481, March.
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