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School Finance Reform, the Distribution of School Spending, and the Distribution of SAT Scores

  • David Card
  • A. Abigail Payne

In this paper we study the effects of school finance reforms on the distribution of school spending across richer and poorer districts, and the effects of spending equalization on the distribution of student outcomes across children from different family backgrounds. We use school district data from the 1977 and 1992 Censuses of Governments to measure the correlation between state funding per pupil and median family income in each district. We find that states where the school finance system was declared unconstitutional in the 1980s increased the relative funding of low-income districts. Increases in state funds available to poorer districts led to increases in the relative spending of these districts, and to some equalization in spending across richer and poorer districts. We then use micro samples of SAT scores from this same period to measure the effects of spending inequality on the inequality in test scores between children from different family backgrounds. We find some evidence that the equalization of spending across districts leads to a narrowing of test score outcomes across family background groups.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6766.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6766.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
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Publication status: published as Card, David and A. Abigail Payne. "School Finance Reform, The Distribution Of School Spending, And The Distribution Of Student Test Scores," Journal of Public Economics, 2002, v83(1,Jan), 49-82.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6766
Note: LS
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  1. Behrendt, Amy & Eisenach, Jeffrey & Johnson, William R., 1986. "Selectivity bias and the determinants of SAT scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 363-371, August.
  2. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Goodman, Robert P, 1973. "Private Demands for Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 280-96, June.
  3. Manwaring, R.L. & Sheffrin, S.M., 1994. "The Effects of Education Equalization Litigation on the Levels of Funding: An Empirical Analysis," Papers 94-14, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  4. Fisher, Ronald C., 1982. "Income and grant effects on local expenditure: The flypaper effect and other difficulties," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 324-345, November.
  5. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
  6. Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1987. "The economics of the local public sector," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 11, pages 571-645 Elsevier.
  7. Thomas Downes & David Figlio, 1998. "School Finance Reforms, Tax Limits, and Student Performance: Do Reforms Level-Up or Dumb Down?," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9805, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. Goldstein, G. S. & Pauly, M. V., 1981. "Tiebout bias on the demand for local public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 131-143, October.
  9. Caroline M. Hoxby, 1998. "All School Finance Equalizations Are Not Created Equal," NBER Working Papers 6792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Figlio, David N., 1997. "Did the "tax revolt" reduce school performance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 245-269, September.
  11. 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.
  12. Dynarski, Mark, 1987. "The Scholastic Aptitude Test: Participation and performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 263-273, June.
  13. Gronau, Reuben, 1974. "Wage Comparisons-A Selectivity Bias," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1119-43, Nov.-Dec..
  14. Ahn, Hyungtaik & Powell, James L., 1993. "Semiparametric estimation of censored selection models with a nonparametric selection mechanism," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 3-29, July.
  15. 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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