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School Finance, Equivalent Educational Expenditure, and Income Distribution: Equal Dollars or Equal Chances for Success?

  • Kathryn Wilson
  • Kristina Lambright
  • Timothy M. Smeeding

This paper breaks new ground in the debate on school finance and equality of per pupil school expenditures. We are able to allocate expenditures per pupil at the *individual* student and family income level. This allows us to examine both student and school district characteristics and to assess several measures of equality of expenditure across the income distribution of parents and by funding sources. We find a surprising degree of equality in the actual amounts expended per child in low- vs. high-income families. But adjusting for student needs to reach equivalent education expenditures results in much greater inequality over the income distribution. Policy implications for school finance and increased equality of eduational opportunity are drawn in closing.

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File URL: http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/uploadedFiles/cpr/publications/working_papers2/wp62.pdf
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Paper provided by Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University in its series Center for Policy Research Working Papers with number 62.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:62
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  1. Brunner, Eric & Sonstelie, Jon, 2003. "School finance reform and voluntary fiscal federalism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2157-2185, September.
  2. Cullen, Julie Berry, 2003. "The impact of fiscal incentives on student disability rates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1557-1589, August.
  3. Hanushek, Eric A & Rivkin, Steven G & Taylor, Lori L, 1996. "Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 611-27, November.
  4. Murray, Sheila E & Evans, William N & Schwab, Robert M, 1998. "Education-Finance Reform and the Distribution of Education Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 789-812, September.
  5. Kathryn Wilson, 2000. "Using the Psid to Study the Effects of School Spending," Public Finance Review, , vol. 28(5), pages 428-451, September.
  6. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
  8. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," NBER Working Papers 3358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Are There Civic Returns to Education?," NBER Working Papers 9588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sean Corcoran & William N. Evans, 2010. "Income Inequality, the Median Voter, and the Support for Public Education," NBER Working Papers 16097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hoxby, Caroline M, 1998. "How Much Does School Spending Depend on Family Income? The Historical Origins of the Current School Finance Dilemma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 309-14, May.
  13. John Yinger, 2001. "Fixing New York's State Education Aid Dinosaur: A Proposal," Center for Policy Research Policy Briefs 21, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  14. Eric Brunner & Jennifer Imazeki, 2003. "Private Contributions and Public School Resources," Working Papers 0011, San Diego State University, Department of Economics.
  15. Kevin Milligan & Enrico Moretti & Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K," NBER Working Papers 9584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
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