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The Productivity of Schools and Other Local Public Goods Providers

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  • Caroline M. Hoxby

Abstract

I construct an agency model of local public goods producers with special reference to public schools. The model assumes that households make Tiebout choices among jurisdictions, but it has more realistic assumptions about information and the cost of residential mobility. I examine producers' effort and rent under local property tax finance and centralized finance. I show that, if there are a sufficient number of jurisdictions to choose among, conventional local property tax finance substantially reduces the agency problem and associated loss of productivity. Specifically, I demonstrate that local property tax finance can attain about as much productivity as a social planner with centralized finance can, even if the social planner is armed with more information that a real social planner could plausibly have. The key insight is that decentralized Tiebout choices make some information the social planner would need verifiable and other information unnecessary.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline M. Hoxby, 1999. "The Productivity of Schools and Other Local Public Goods Providers," NBER Working Papers 6911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6911
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rauscher, Michael, 1998. "Leviathan and Competition among Jurisdictions: The Case of Benefit Taxation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 59-67, July.
    2. Hamilton, Bruce W, 1976. "Capitalization of Intrajurisdictional Differences in Local Tax Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(5), pages 743-753, December.
    3. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
    4. Epple, Dennis & Zelenitz, Allan, 1981. "The Implications of Competition among Jurisdictions: Does Tiebout Need Politics?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1197-1217, December.
    5. Peltzman, Sam, 1996. "Political Economy of Public Education: Non-College-Bound Students," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 73-120, April.
    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. J. Nechyba, 1997. "Existence of equilibrium and stratification in local and hierarchical Tiebout economies with property taxes and voting," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 10(2), pages 277-304.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Glaeser, Edward L, 1996. "The Incentive Effects of Property Taxes on Local Governments," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 93-111, October.
    11. Randall W. Eberts & Ellen K. Schwartz & Joe A. Stone, 1990. "School reform, school size, and student achievement," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 2-15.
    12. Roland Benabou, 1993. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-652.
    13. Brennan, Geoffrey & Buchanan, James M., 1978. "Tax instruments as constraints on the disposition of public revenues," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 301-318, June.
    14. repec:hrv:faseco:30727606 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid

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