Self-Interest in Public Service: Evidence from School Board Elections
55 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2022 Last revised: 27 May 2022
Date Written: February 2022
In this paper, we show that the election of a new school board member causes home values in their neighborhood to rise. This increase is identified using narrowly-decided contests and is driven by non-Democratic members, whose neighborhoods appreciate about 4% on average relative to those of losing candidates. We find that student test scores in the neighborhood public schools of non-Democratic winners also relatively increase, but this effect is driven by changing student composition, including via the manipulation of attendance zones, rather than improvements in school quality (as measured by test score value-added). Notably, we detect no differential changes when comparing neighborhood or scholastic outcomes between winning and losing Democratic school board candidates. These results suggest that partisan affiliation is correlated with private motivations for seeking public office.
Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation