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What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and House Prices

  • David N. Figlio
  • Maurice E. Lucas

Throughout the last decade, many states around the country have begun making public student test scores or other evaluative measures of school quality available to the general public. The most recent trends in state policies under consideration, already enacted in Florida and a n major component of George W. Bush's education platform, involve the assignment of letter grades to rate school quality. Because school quality is one of a group of local public goods purchased along with a house, one would anticipate that additional information about school quality would capitalize into real estate values. This paper takes the first look at the role that this type of added information plays in the capitalization of school quality measures. We use rich student test score and housing value data from a medium-sized Florida school district, one of the nation's 200 largest, to directly investigate this link. Using data on repeat sales of properties before and after the assignment of school letter grades, we find significant evidence that arbitrary distinctions embedded in school report cards lead to major housing price effects.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8019.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8019.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Publication status: published as Figlio, David N. and Maurice E. Lucas. "What's In A Grade? School Report Cards And The Housing Market," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(3,Jun), 591-604.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8019
Note: CH PE
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  1. Bogart, William T. & Cromwell, Brian A., 2000. "How Much Is a Neighborhood School Worth?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 280-305, March.
  2. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation Of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599, May.
  3. Brunner, Eric & Sonstelie, Jon & Thayer, Mark, 2001. "Capitalization and the Voucher: An Analysis of Precinct Returns from California's Proposition 174," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 517-536, November.
  4. Kathy J. Hayes & Lori L. Taylor, 1996. "Neighborhood school characteristics: what signals quality to homebuyers?," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q IV, pages 2-9.
  5. Bogart, William T. & Cromwell, Brian A., 1997. "How Much More is a Good School District Worth?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(2), pages 215-32, June.
  6. Brown, Byron W & Saks, Daniel H, 1975. "The Production and Distribution of Cognitive Skills within Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(3), pages 571-93, June.
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