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Why Do School District Budget Referenda Fail?


  • Ehrenberg, Ronald G.

    () (Cornell University)

  • Ehrenberg, Randy A.

    (affiliation not available)

  • Smith, Christopher L.

    () (Federal Reserve Board of Governors)

  • Zhang, Liang

    () (Pennsylvania State University)


Our paper analyzes historical data for New York State on the percentage of school board budget proposals that are defeated each year and panel data that we collected for individual school districts in the state. We find that changes in state aid have little impact on budget vote success. Defeating a budget in one year increases the likelihood that the voters will defeat a budget in the next year. Finally, districts have a larger probability of having their budget proposals defeated when their school board members have longer terms.

Suggested Citation

  • Ehrenberg, Ronald G. & Ehrenberg, Randy A. & Smith, Christopher L. & Zhang, Liang, 2004. "Why Do School District Budget Referenda Fail?," IZA Discussion Papers 1053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1053

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard J. Butler & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1981. "Estimating the Narcotic Effect of Public Sector Impasse Procedures," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(1), pages 3-20, October.
    2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Richard P. Chaykowski & Randy A. Ehrenberg, 1988. "Determinants of the Compensation and Mobility of School Superintendents," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(3), pages 386-401, April.
    3. Gramlich, Edward M & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1982. "Micro Estimates of Public Spending Demand Functions and Tests of the Tiebout and Median-Voter Hypotheses," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 536-560, June.
    4. Dunne, Stephanie & Reed, W Robert & Wilbanks, James, 1997. "Endogenizing the Median Voter: Public Choice Goes to School," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(1-2), pages 99-118, October.
    5. Heckman, James J & Borjas, George J, 1980. "Does Unemployment Cause Future Unemployment? Definitions, Questions and Answers from a Continuous Time Model of Heterogeneity and State Dependence," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 247-283, August.
    6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    7. Lankford, R. Hamilton, 1985. "Preferences of citizens for public expenditures on elementary and secondary education," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-20, January.
    8. Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1977. "Voting in a Local School Election: A Micro Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(1), pages 30-42, February.
    9. Lankford, Ralph Hamilton, 1985. "Efficiency and Equity in the Provision of Public Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 70-80, February.
    10. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard & Munley, Vincent G., 1992. "Economic incentives and political institutions: Spending and voting in school budget referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 1-33, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shannon Suldo & E. Huebner, 2006. "Is Extremely High Life Satisfaction During Adolescence Advantageous?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 78(2), pages 179-203, September.
    2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2005. "Involving Undergraduates in Research To Encourage Them To Undertake Ph.D. Study in Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 184-188, May.
    3. Rockoff, Jonah E., 2010. "Local response to fiscal incentives in heterogeneous communities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 138-147, September.

    More about this item


    school budget votes;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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