Intergenerational Conflict and the Political Economy of School Spending
In this paper we use survey data to examine support among voters from different age cohorts for public school spending. The survey asked potential voters in California how they intended to vote on two initiatives, one a statewide initiative that would increase spending on public schools throughout the state and the other a local initiative that would increase spending only in the respondent’s local school district. We find that older voters without children generally oppose increases in state spending but are much more willing to support local spending. We examine two explanations for this voting pattern, namely the capitalization of local spending into housing values and intergenerational altruism. Our results do not strongly favor one explanation over the other. Consequently, we conclude that both factors (capitalization and intergenerational altruism) probably play important roles in sustaining support among older voters for local school spending.
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