IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Robin Hood and His Not-So-Merry Plan: Capitalization and the Self-Destruction of Texas' School Finance Equalization Plan


  • Caroline M. Hoxby
  • Ilyana Kuziemko


School finance schemes control the allocation of $370 billion a year in the United States, but their economics are poorly understood. We examine an illuminating example: Texas' Robin Hood' scheme, which was enacted in 1994, allocates about $30 billion a year, and is currently collapsing and likely to be abandoned. We show that the collapse was predictable. Robin Hood's design causes substantial negative capitalization, shrinking its own tax base. It relies only slightly on relatively efficient (pseudo lump sum) redistibution and heavily on high marginal tax rates. Although Robin Hood reduced the spending gap between Texas' property-poor and property-rich districts by $500 per pupil, it destroyed about $27,000 per pupil in property wealth. The magnitude of this loss is important: if the state had efficiently confiscated the same wealth and invested it, it would generate sufficient annual income to make all Texas schools spend at a high leval. The Robin Hood scheme is stringent but not bizarre: other states' systdms share its features to some degree. We provide estimates of the effects of school finance system parameters, which policy makers could use to design systems that are more efficient and stable.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline M. Hoxby & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2004. "Robin Hood and His Not-So-Merry Plan: Capitalization and the Self-Destruction of Texas' School Finance Equalization Plan," NBER Working Papers 10722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10722
    Note: ED PE CH

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hoxby, Caroline M., 1999. "The productivity of schools and other local public goods producers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 1-30, October.
    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. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2001. "All School Finance Equalizations are Not Created Equal," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1189-1231.
    4. Epple, Dennis & Filimon, Radu & Romer, Thomas, 1984. "Equilibrium among local jurisdictions: toward an integrated treatment of voting and residential choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 281-308, August.
    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. Shan, Hui, 2010. "Property taxes and elderly mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 194-205, March.
    2. Byron F. Lutz, 2006. "Taxation with representation: intergovernmental grants in a plebiscite democracy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-06, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2006. "Alternative education finance strategies," Regional Economic Development, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 7-27.
    4. George R. Zodrow, 2007. "The Property Tax Incidence Debate and the Mix of State and Local Finance of Local Public Expenditures," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 53(4), pages 495-521, December.
    5. Michael Podgursky & Matthew G. Spring, 2006. "K-12 public school finance in Missouri: an overview," Regional Economic Development, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 31-50.
    6. Turner, Nick, 2010. "Who Benefits From Student Aid? The Economic Incidence of Tax-Based Federal Student Aid," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt7g0888mj, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    7. Nada Wasi & Michelle J. White, 2005. "Property Tax Limitations and Mobility: The Lock-in Effect of California's Proposition 13," NBER Working Papers 11108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

    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:nbr:nberwo:10722. 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: (). 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.