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The political economy of public education

Valerio Dotti ()

Research in Economics, 2019, vol. 73, issue 1, 35-52

Abstract: I study the relationship between income inequality and public spending in education in a voting model. Voters collectively choose the uniform quality level of public education, the amount of a public good, and the tax rate on labor income. Parents can decide to opt-out of the public education system by purchasing private education at the desired quality level, and children’s expected income is assumed to be increasing in the quality of education. I show that higher income inequality is associated with higher governmental spending in education if and only if the expected marginal returns to education are larger for the children of relatively low income parents. In turn, better public education tends to reduce future inequality. These results are consistent with most findings in the empirical literature about public investment in education. Lastly, I show that for other kind of publicly provided goods, such as health care, the relationship with income inequality exhibits an ambiguous or opposite sign.

Keywords: Probabilistic Voting; Education; Inequality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 H42 I21 I22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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