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Does Public School Spending Raise Intergenerational Mobility?: Evidence from U.S. School Finance Reforms


  • Sungoh Kwon

    (University of Connecticut)


It is generally believed that equality of opportunity can be achieved through high qual-ity public schools. This paper examines the causal e˙ect of public school spending on intergenerational mobility by exploiting U.S. court-mandated school finance reforms. I utilize college attendance rate and intergenerational income mobility that Chetty et al. (2014) construct based on administrative tax records. Event study and instru-mental variable models show that students are more likely to attend college due to additional resources in public schools. Reform-induced spending increases also improve intergenerational mobility of advantaged children, but have little impact on mobility of disadvantaged children. In fact, the gap in the mean income rank between advan-tage and disadvantage children widens. The heterogeneity by county characteristics suggests that the school spending e˙ect may be mitigated by negative environments in high poverty area.

Suggested Citation

  • Sungoh Kwon, 2017. "Does Public School Spending Raise Intergenerational Mobility?: Evidence from U.S. School Finance Reforms," Working papers 2017-06, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2017-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis & Enrico Moretti, 2011. "The Political Economy Of Intergenerational Income Mobility," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(1), pages 47-69, January.
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    3. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner, 2014. "Academic Performance and College Dropout: Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Estimate a Learning Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 601-644.
    4. T. A. Downes & D. N. Figlio, "undated". "School Finance Reforms, Tax Limits, and Student Performance: Do Reforms Level Up or Dumb Down?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1142-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    5. C. Kirabo Jackson & Rucker Johnson & Claudia Persico, 2014. "The Effect of School Finance Reforms on the Distribution of Spending, Academic Achievement, and Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 20118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. C. Kirabo Jackson & Rucker C. Johnson & Claudia Persico, 2016. "The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 157-218.
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    More about this item


    Intergenerational mobility; Public school spending; School finance reform;

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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