The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: How Information and Design Affect Public Preferences for Tuition

68 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2019

See all articles by Philipp Lergetporer

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck

Beata Smarzynska Javorcik

University of Oxford - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

Public preferences for charging tuition are important for determining higher education finance. To test whether public support for tuition depends on information and design, we devise several survey experiments in representative samples of the German electorate (N>19,500). The electorate is divided, with a slight plurality opposing tuition. Providing information on the university earnings premium raises support for tuition by 7 percentage points, turning the plurality in favor. The opposition-reducing effect persists two weeks after treatment. Information on fiscal costs and unequal access does not affect public preferences. Designing tuition as deferred income-contingent payments raises support by 16 percentage points, creating a strong majority favoring tuition. The same effect emerges when framed as loan payments. Support decreases with higher tuition levels and increases when targeted at non-EU students.

Keywords: tuition, higher education, political economy, survey experiments, information, earnings premium, income-contingent loans, voting

JEL Classification: I220, H520, D720, D830

Suggested Citation

Lergetporer, Philipp and Smarzynska Javorcik, Beata, The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: How Information and Design Affect Public Preferences for Tuition (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7536. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3348725

Philipp Lergetporer (Contact Author)

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universit├Ątsstra├če 15
Innsbruck, 6020
Austria

Beata Smarzynska Javorcik

University of Oxford - Department of Economics ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3BJ
United Kingdom

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