School Cost Functions: A Meta-Regression Analysis

Posted: 23 Sep 2009

Date Written: 2008


The education cost literature includes econometric studies attempting to determine economies of scale, or estimate an optimal school or district size. Not only do their results differ, but the studies use dissimilar data, techniques, and models. To derive value from these studies requires that the estimates be made comparable. One method to do this is metaregression analysis (MRA) which was pioneered by Stanley and Jarrell [(1998). Gender wage discrimination bias‘ An MRA. Journal of Human Resources, 33, 947–973] as a result of similar frustrations with ‘omnipresent biases’ (p. 717). In this paper, the basic technique of MRA is described and then applied to 22 estimates of school costs, where an optimal school size (OSS) has or can be calculated. Results suggest an OSS of around 1543 students at the US secondary school level. Difficulties in interpreting the estimates are highlighted. The paper concludes with cautions in the use of MRA and opportunities for further research in this area.

Keywords: Costs, Economies of scale, Efficiency, Expenditures

Suggested Citation

Colegrave, Andrew D. and Giles, Margaret, School Cost Functions: A Meta-Regression Analysis (2008). Economics of Education Review, Vol. 27, No. 6, pp. 688-696, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Andrew D. Colegrave

Edith Cowan University ( email )

Mount Lawley Campus
Churchlands 6018 WA, Victoria

Margaret Giles (Contact Author)

Edith Cowan University ( email )

100 Joondalup Drive
Joondalup, WA 6027, WA 6027
0432662101 (Phone)

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