Understanding the 20th Century Growth in U.S. School Spending

56 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 1996 Last revised: 1 Oct 2010

See all articles by Eric A. Hanushek

Eric A. Hanushek

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Steven G. Rivkin

Amherst College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 1996

Abstract

The persistent increase in spending on elementary and secondary schools has gone virtually undocumented and has received insufficient attention. Real expenditure per student increased at 3« percent per year over the entire period of 1890-1990. A decomposition of the spending growth shows that it was propelled by a combination of falling pupil-teacher ratios, increasing real wages to teachers, and rising expenditures outside of the classroom. While the expansion of education for the handicapped has had a disproportionate effect on spending, most of the growth in expenditure during the 1980s came from other sources. Teacher salary increases, which reflect competitive pressures particularly for females, have nevertheless failed to keep up with wages in other occupationsþleading to likely declines in teacher quality over time. Moreover, the magnitude of the wage decline is larger than commonly thought because the relative aging of teachers has masked the sizable declines when teachers are compared to comparably aged people in other occupations.

Suggested Citation

Hanushek, Eric A. and Rivkin, Steven G., Understanding the 20th Century Growth in U.S. School Spending (April 1996). NBER Working Paper No. w5547. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3097

Eric A. Hanushek (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-736-0942 (Phone)
650-723-1687 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Steven G. Rivkin

Amherst College - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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