Are Public Subsidies to Higher Education Regressive ?
This paper estimates the dollar amount of public higher education subsidies received by U.S. youth and examines the distribution of subsidies and the taxes which finance them across parental and student income levels. Although youths from highincome families obtain more benefit from higher education subsidies, high-income households pay sufficiently more in taxes that the net effect of the spending and associated taxation is distributionally neutral or mildly progressive. These results are robust to alternative assumptions and are consistent with Hansen and Weisbrod’s earlier celebrated findings for California, although not with the conclusions often drawn from those findings.
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