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The Relationship between Educational Expenditures and Outcomes

  • François Leclercq


    (DIAL, Université Paris 1, UNESCO)

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    (english) This paper presents a survey of the large empirical literature in economics that has sought to examine the relationship between educational expenditures and outcomes in both developed and developing countries. The main feature of this literature is the remarkable lack of consensus about the results of standard studies using the ‘education production function’ conceptual framework, whether at the macro or at the micro level. Experimental evidence that has recently started to accumulate may provide more reliable guidance to policy interventions aimed to improve attainment and achievement. Another strand of literature is emphasizing the incentives structure of the school systems, which affects the way in which available school resources are combined to ‘produce’ outcomes. However, the ability of economists to adequately model the functioning of schools could be further enhanced by making use of insights from other social sciences, e.g. social psychology and sociology, pertaining to the behavior of teachers and students. Although they remain quite marginal to the field, recent behavioral economics papers may provide a basis for such a renewal of the economics of education. _________________________________ (français) Cet article présente une synthèse critique des travaux consacrés par les économistes de l’éducation à la relation entre dépenses d’éducation et résultats scolaires. Qu’ils portent sur les pays développés ou les pays en développement, et qu’ils utilisent des données agrégées au niveau des pays ou des données individuelles, les travaux utilisant le cadre conceptuel standard – la « fonction de production éducative » – n’ont pas établi de régularité empirique incontestable. L’approche dite « expérimentale » utilisée dans quelques travaux récents pourrait offrir des résultats plus robustes quant à l’impact de politiques éducatives spécifiques sur le nombre d’années d’études et le niveau de connaissances atteints par les élèves. Un nouvel ensemble de travaux s’intéresse désormais aux incitations données aux enseignants par les systèmes scolaires, qui déterminent la façon dont les ressources à la disposition des écoles sont utilisées pour « produire » des résultats scolaires. Cependant, la capacité des économistes à modéliser de façon adéquate le fonctionnement des écoles pourrait être améliorée par la prise en compte de concepts empruntés à d’autres sciences sociales, comme la psychologie sociale ou la sociologie ; bien qu’ils restent rares et soient encore peu cités, quelques articles récents d’économie « comportementale » pourraient conduire à un tel renouveau de l’économie de l’éducation.

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    File Function: First version, 2005
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    Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2005/05.

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    Length: 61 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200505
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