IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Distributional Effects of Public Education Transfers in Seven European Countries


  • Tim Callan

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Tim Smeeding

    (Syracuse University)

  • Panos Tsakloglou

    (Athens University of Economics and Business)


Empirical studies of inequality and poverty are usually based on disposable cash incomes, disregarding incomes in-kind (non-cash incomes). Since individuals also derive utility from the consumption of goods and services provided in-kind monetary income is not always a good indicator of an individual's utility or ?command over resources?. Thus, distributional analysis based on cash incomes may be seriously biased. Inclusion of non-cash incomes (arising from private sources or from public provision of services such as health, housing and education) may allow for better targeting and allocation of resources in fighting poverty and social exclusion. The present paper focuses on non-cash incomes arising from publicly provided education in seven European countries (Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK), as part of a broader research project (AIM-AP Accurate Income Measurement for the Assessment of Policy) investigating the distributional implications of including elements of non-cash income in the measurement of wider resources. In all countries under examination public education transfers account for a considerable proportion of the total transfers of the state to the citizens. The paper uses static incidence analysis under the assumption that public education transfers do not create noticeable externalities, combining the information of existing nationwide income surveys with external information on spending per student in particular levels of the education system. In all countries public education transfers are found to reduce aggregate inequality. These effects are driven by the impact of primary and, especially, secondary education transfers at the time of their receipt and assuming benefits are valued at cost by recipients. In a static framework, transfers in the field of tertiary education appear to have a small distributional impact while the size and the sign of this impact depend on the treatment of tertiary education students living away from the parental home.

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Callan & Tim Smeeding & Panos Tsakloglou, 2007. "Distributional Effects of Public Education Transfers in Seven European Countries," Papers WP207, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp207

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2007
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bas Jacobs & Frederick Van Der Ploeg, 2006. "Guide to reform of higher education: a European perspective," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(47), pages 535-592, July.
    2. Tsakloglou, Panos & Antoninis, Manos, 1999. "On the distributional impact of public education: evidence from Greece," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 439-452, October.
    3. Christos Koutsampelas & Panos Tsakloglou, 2011. "Short-run distributional effects of public education in Greece," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 12-2011, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    4. Smeeding, Timothy M, et al, 1993. "Poverty, Inequality, and Family Living Standards Impacts across Seven Nations: The Effect of Noncash Subsidies for Health, Education and Housing," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(3), pages 229-256, September.
    5. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    6. William Duncombe & John Yinger, 1997. "Why is it so hard to help central city schools?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 85-113.
    7. Christopher Heady & Theodore Mitrakos & Panos Tsakloglou, 2001. "The distributional impact of social transfers in the European Union: evidence from the ECHP," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 547-565., December.
    8. David Card & Abigail A. Payne, 1997. "School Finance Reform, the Distribution of School Spending, and the Distribution of SAT Scores," Working Papers 766, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    9. Atkinson, Tony & Cantillon, Bea & Marlier, Eric & Nolan, Brian, 2002. "Social Indicators: The EU and Social Inclusion," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199253494.
    10. Tom Sefton, 2002. "Recent Changes in the Distribution of the Social Wage," CASE Papers case62, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    11. Radner, Daniel B, 1997. "Noncash Income, Equivalence Scales, and the Measurement of Economic Well-Being," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 43(1), pages 71-88, March.
    12. Kathryn Wilson, 2000. "Using the Psid to Study the Effects of School Spending," Public Finance Review, , vol. 28(5), pages 428-451, September.
    13. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-231, March.
    14. Estelle James & Gail Benjamin, 1987. "Educational Distribution and Income Redistribution through Education in Japan," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(4), pages 469-489.
    15. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    16. Manos Antoninis & Panos Tsakloglou, 2001. "Who Benefits from Public Education in Greece? Evidence and Policy Implications," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 197-222.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Darragh Flannery & Cathal O’Donoghue, 2011. "The Life-cycle Impact of Alternative Higher Education Finance Systems in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 42(3), pages 237-270.
    2. Callan, Tim & Nolan, Brian & Walsh, John R. & Whelan, Christopher T. & Maitre, Bertrand, 2008. "Tackling Low Income and Deprivation: Developing Effective Policies," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS1.
    3. Paulus, Alari & Sutherland, Holly & Tsakloglou, Panos, 2009. "The distributional impact of in kind public benefits in European countries," EUROMOD Working Papers EM10/09, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    4. Callan, Tim & Keane, Claire, 2009. "Non-cash Benefits and the Distribution of Economic Welfare," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 40(1), pages 49-71.
    5. Gerlinde Verbist & Michael Föster & Vaalavou, M., 2013. "GINI DP 74: The Impact of Publicly Provided Services on the Distribution of Resources: Review of New Results and Methods," GINI Discussion Papers 74, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    6. Tim Callan & Tim Smeeding & Panos Tsakloglou, 2008. "Short-run distributional effects of public education transfers to tertiary education students in seven European countries," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 275-288.
    7. Christos Koutsampelas & Panos Tsakloglou, 2011. "Short-run distributional effects of public education in Greece," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 12-2011, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp207. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sarah Burns). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.