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Education Politics, Schooling Choice and Public School Quality: The Impact of Income Polarisation

Majda Benzidia, Michel Lubrano () and Paolo Melindi-Ghidi ()
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Majda Benzidia: Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS, EHESS, https://www.amse-aixmarseille.fr/users/benzidia

No 1642, AMSE Working Papers from Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France

Abstract: Do communities with the same level of inequality but a different level of income polarisation perform differently in terms of public schooling? To answer this question, we extend the theoretical model of schooling choice and voting developed by de la Croix and Doepke (2009), introducing a more general income distribution characterised by a three-member mixture instead of a single uniform distribution. We show that not only income inequality, but also income polarisation, matters in explaining disparities in public education quality across communities. Public schooling is an important issue for the middle class, which is more inclined to pay higher taxes in return for better public schools. Contrastingly, poorer households may be less concerned about public education, while rich parents are more willing to opt-out of the public system, sending their children to private schools. Using micro-data covering 724 school districts of California and introducing a new measure of income polarisation, we find that school quality in low-income districts depends mainly on income polarisation, while in richer districts it depends mainly on income inequality.

Keywords: schooling choice; income polarisation; probabilistic voting; education politics; Bayesian inference (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I24 D31 D72 H52 C11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-pol and nep-ure
Date: 2016-11
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