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Income Inequality, the Median Voter, and the Support for Public Education

  • Sean Corcoran
  • William N. Evans

Using a panel of U.S. school districts spanning 1970 - 2000, we examine the relationship between income inequality and fiscal support for public education. In contrast with recent theoretical and empirical work suggesting a negative relationship between inequality and public spending, we find results consistent with a median voter model, in which inequality that reduces the median voter's tax share induces higher local spending on public education. We estimate that 12 to 22 percent of the increase in local school spending over this period is attributable to rising inequality.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16097.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16097.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16097
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  1. Fernández, Raquel & Levy, Gilat, 2008. "Diversity and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 925-943, June.
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  4. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-164.
  5. Daniel Aaronson, 1998. "The effect of school finance reform on population heterogeneity," Working Paper Series WP-98-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Sandra E. Black, 1997. "Do better schools matter? Parental valuation of elementary education," Research Paper 9729, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Borcherding, Thomas E & Deacon, Robert T, 1972. "The Demand for the Services of Non-Federal Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 891-901, December.
  8. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
  9. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  10. Borge, Lars-Erik & Rattso, J.Jorn, 2004. "Income distribution and tax structure: Empirical test of the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 805-826, August.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Political Jurisdictions in Heterogeneous Communities," NBER Working Papers 7859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rainald Borck, 2007. "Voting, Inequality And Redistribution," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 90-109, 02.
  13. Baicker, Katherine & Gordon, Nora, 2006. "The effect of state education finance reform on total local resources," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1519-1535, September.
  14. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1997. "The Determinants of Public Education Expenditures: Evidence from the States, 1950-1990," Working Papers 97-16, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  15. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
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