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Jel Classification:I28 

Do vouchers lead to sorting under random private-school selection? Evidence from the Milwaukee voucher program

This paper analyzes the impact of voucher design on student sorting in the application and enrollment phases of parental choice. More specifically, it investigates whether there are feasible ways of designing vouchers that can reduce or eliminate student sorting in these phases. Much of the existing literature investigates the question of sorting where private schools can screen students. However, the publicly funded U.S. voucher programs require private schools to accept all students unless oversubscribed and to pick students randomly if oversubscribed. This paper focuses on two crucial ...
Staff Reports , Paper 379

Did cuts in state aid during the Great Recession lead to changes in local property taxes?

During the Great Recession and its aftermath, state and local governments? revenue streams dried up due to diminished taxes. Budget cuts affected many aspects of government; in this paper, we investigate whether (and how) local school districts modified their funding and taxing decisions in response to changes in state aid in the post-recession period. Using detailed district-level panel data from New York and a fixed effects as well as an instrumental variables strategy, we find strong evidence that school districts did indeed respond to state aid cuts in the post-recession period by ...
Staff Reports , Paper 643

The impact of the Great Recession on school district finances: evidence from New York

Despite education?s fundamental role in human capital formation and growth, there is no research that examines the effect of the Great Recession (or any other recession) on schools. Our paper begins to fill this gap. Exploiting detailed data on school finance indicators and an analysis of trend shifts, we examine how the Great Recession affected school funding in New York State. While we find no evidence of effects on either total revenue or expenditure, there were important compositional changes to both. There is strong evidence of substitution of funds on the revenue side?the infusion of ...
Staff Reports , Paper 534

Information heterogeneity and intended college enrollment

Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps? specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs?as a potential explanation for these patterns. In a nationally representative survey of U.S. household heads, we show that perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 74 percent of our respondents underestimate the true benefits of college (average earnings of a college graduate relative to a non-college ...
Staff Reports , Paper 685

Can increasing private school participation and monetary loss in a voucher program affect public school performance? Evidence from Milwaukee

The Milwaukee voucher program, as implemented in 1990, allowed only nonsectarian private schools to participate in the program. However, following a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, the program was expanded to include religious private schools in 1998. This second phase of the voucher program led to more than a three-fold increase in the number of private schools and almost a four-fold increase in the number of choice students. Moreover, because of some changes in funding provisions, the revenue loss per student from vouchers increased in the second phase of the program. This paper analyzes, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 300

Intended college attendance: evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs

Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps?specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs?as a potential explanation for these patterns. For this purpose, we conduct an information experiment about college returns and costs embedded within a representative survey of U.S. household heads. We show that, at the baseline, perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 75 percent of our respondents ...
Staff Reports , Paper 739

Precarious slopes? The Great Recession, federal stimulus, and New Jersey schools

While sparse literature exists investigating the impact of the Great Recession on various sectors of the economy, there is virtually no research that studies the effect of the Great Recession, or past recessions, on schools. This paper starts to fill the void. Studying school funding during the recession is of paramount importance because schools have a fundamental role in fostering human capital formation and economic growth. We exploit unique panel-data and trend-shift analysis to analyze how New Jersey school finances were affected during the Great Recession and the ARRA federal stimulus ...
Staff Reports , Paper 538

Abbott and Bacon Districts: education finances during the Great Recession

In the State of New Jersey, any child between the age of five and eighteen has the constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education. The State of New Jersey also has one of the country?s most rigid policies regarding a balanced budget come fiscal end. When state and local revenues took a big hit in the most recent recession, officials had to make tough decisions about education spending. This paper exploits rich panel data and trend-shift analysis to analyze how school finances in the Abbott and Bacon School Districts, as well as the high-poverty districts in general, were affected ...
Staff Reports , Paper 573

Working Paper
Optimal Need-Based Financial Aid

We study the optimal design of student financial aid as a function of parental income. We derive optimal financial aid formulas in a general model. For a simple model version, we derive mild conditions on primitives under which poorer students receive more aid even without distributional concerns. We quantitatively extend this result to an empirical model of selection into college for the United States that comprises multidimensional heterogeneity, endogenous parental transfers, dropout, labor supply in college, and uncertain returns. Optimal financial aid is strongly declining in parental ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 14

Working Paper
Student Loans and Repayment: Theory, Evidence and Policy

Rising costs of and returns to college have led to sizeable increases in the demand for student loans in many countries. In the U.S., student loan default rates have also risen for recent cohorts as labor market uncertainty and debt levels have increased. We discuss these trends as well as recent evidence on the extent to which students are able to obtain enough credit for college and the extent to which they are able to repay their student debts after. We then discuss optimal student credit arrangements that balance three important objectives: (i) providing credit for students to access ...
Working Papers , Paper 2014-40


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