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The Curious Dawn of American Public Schools


  • Sun Go
  • Peter H. Lindert


Three factors help to explain why school enrollments in the Northern United States were higher than those in the South and in most of Europe by 1850. One was affordability: the northern states had higher real incomes, cheaper teachers, and greater local tax support. The second was the greater autonomy of local governments. The third was the greater diffusion of voting power among the citizenry in much of the North, especially in rural communities. The distribution of local political voice appears to be a robust predictor of tax support and enrollments, both within and between regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Sun Go & Peter H. Lindert, 2007. "The Curious Dawn of American Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 13335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13335
    Note: DAE ED POL PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Irigoin, Alejandra, 2015. "Representation without taxation, taxation without consent; the legacy of Spanish colonialism in America," MPRA Paper 68639, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Dec 2015.
    2. Korthals R.A., 2016. "The education revolution on horseback I : The relation between Napoleon Bonaparte and education system characteristics," Research Memorandum 014, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    3. Parman, John, 2012. "Good schools make good neighbors: Human capital spillovers in early 20th century agriculture," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 316-334.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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