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Scholarships or Student Loans? Subsidizing Higher Education in the Presence of Moral Hazard


  • Alessandro Cigno
  • Annalisa Luporini


Student loans, even income-contingent ones, are not optimal. Potential university students with the appropriate characteristics should be offered a scholarship, dependent on both need and merit. The award of the scholarship should be conditional on the choice of university degree, but students with a natural aptitude for studies that do not hold the prospect of a well paid job should not be pushed towards potentially more lucrative ones. The scheme should be financed by a graduate tax that re-distributes from the better paid to the academically more successful.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Cigno & Annalisa Luporini, 2003. "Scholarships or Student Loans? Subsidizing Higher Education in the Presence of Moral Hazard," CESifo Working Paper Series 973, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_973

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hanushek, Eric A. & Leung, Charles Ka Yui & Yilmaz, Kuzey, 2003. "Redistribution through education and other transfer mechanisms," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(8), pages 1719-1750, November.
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    4. Salvatore Barbaro, 2002. "The Distributional Impact of Subsidies to Higher Education - Empirical Evidence from Germany," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 59(4), pages 458-458, December.
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    6. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
    7. Cigno, Alessandro & Luporini, Annalisa & Pettini, Anna, 2003. "Transfers to families with children as a principal-agent problem," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1165-1177, May.
    8. Chapman, Bruce, 1997. "Conceptual Issues and the Australian Experience with Income Contingent Charges for Higher Education," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 738-751, May.
    9. Robert H. Haveman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1984. "Schooling and Economic Well-Being: The Role of Nonmarket Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 377-407.
    10. Annalisa Luporini, 2006. "Relative performance evaluation in a multi-plant firm," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 28(1), pages 235-243, May.
    11. Blundell, Richard, et al, 2000. "The Returns to Higher Education in Britain: Evidence from a British Cohort," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(461), pages 82-99, February.
    12. Panu Poutvaara, 2004. "Educating Europe: Should Public Education be Financed with Graduate Taxes or Income-contingent Loans?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 50(4), pages 663-684.
    13. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    14. Eric A. Hanushek & Charles Ka Yui Leung & Kuzey Yilmaz, 2014. "Borrowing Constraints, College Aid, and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 1-41.
    15. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    16. Dilip Mookherjee, 1984. "Optimal Incentive Schemes with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 433-446.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:lan:wpaper:2660 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Joan Rosselló, 2007. "Does a public university system avoid the stratification of public universities and the segregation of students?," DEA Working Papers 26, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Departament d'Economía Aplicada.
    3. Alessandro Cigno & Annalisa Luporini, 2011. "Optimal Family Policy in the Presence of Moral Hazard when the Quantity and Quality of Children are Stochastic," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(2), pages 349-364, June.
    4. repec:lan:wpaper:2434 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Alexander Haupt & Tim Krieger & Thomas Lange, 2016. "Competition for the international pool of talent," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 1113-1154, October.
    6. Robert J. Gary-Bobo & Alain Trannoy, 2015. "Optimal student loans and graduate tax under moral hazard and adverse selection," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(3), pages 546-576, September.
    7. Del Rey, Elena & Racionero, María, 2010. "Financing schemes for higher education," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 104-113, March.
    8. Alessandro Cigno & Annalisa Luporini, 2013. "Student loans and the allocation of graduate jobs," Working Papers - Economics wp2013_15.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
    9. Ben Heijdra & Fabian Kindermann & Laurie Reijnders, 2017. "Life in shakles? The quantitative implications of reforming the educational financing system," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 25, pages 37-57, April.
    10. Migali, Giuseppe, 2012. "Funding higher education and wage uncertainty: Income contingent loan versus mortgage loan," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 871-889.
    11. Ben J. Heijdra & Fabian Kindermann & Laurie S. M. Reijnders, 2014. "Life in Shackles? The Quantitative Implications of Reforming the Educational Loan System," CESifo Working Paper Series 5013, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. repec:lan:wpaper:2516 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Rosemary Walker & Liviu Florea, 2014. "Easy-Come-Easy-Go: Moral Hazard in the Context of Return to Education," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 120(2), pages 201-217, March.
    14. repec:lan:wpaper:2436 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    scholarships; student loans; graduate tax; principal-agent; moral hazard;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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