Universal Voucher Benefits

Economist Maria Marta Ferreyra of Carnegie Mellon University has a new article coming out in the American Economic Review that models what would happen in a multi-district urban area if there were universal vouchers.  She finds that universal vouchers would generally improve income and racial integration and improve educational outcomes.

She explains it all in this excellent video:

UPDATED to correct typo

6 Responses to Universal Voucher Benefits

  1. allen says:

    Since a major part of the reason for the existence of school districts was to ensure differential spending, I wonder why Dr? Ferreyra believes the wealthy will be willing to accept vouchers which, due to political considerations, can hardly be anything other then the same value, rich or poor?

    • Greg Forster says:

      It isn’t true that vouchers have to be the same value for rich and poor – one of the models that’s emerging for new voucher bills is to have a sliding scale. But as to your larger question, obviously she’s not addressing the question of how you build a political coalition for this policy, but what its effects would be.

      • allen says:

        Education welfare? The less you make the more you get? I don’t know. The past fifteen years have hardly been kind to the presumptuous, generous-with-other-people’s-money supporters of welfare with welfare’s reduction not having resulted in the sort of apocalypse predicted by those supporters.

        Besides, there’s already precedent for having a single dollar amount for all vouchers in the state-level funding of public education which, as I understand, nowhere precludes local funding supplementation. That’s how the all-important funding inequality, the reason d’etre of school districts, is maintained.

      • Greg Forster says:

        State funding does begin with a single amount for each student, and then makes some adjustments. In theory, the adjustments are supposed to be less important than the setting of the single amount. In practice, as you observe, everyone is pushing to maximize their own dollar figures at the expense of everyone else. So the differentiation becomes predominant. The single dollar figure is basically a fig leaf.

        And the voucher sliding scale idea is not percieved as (and I don’t think it actually is) a matter of people who make less getting more. Rather, you have a big pool of people making roughly average incomes and below who get a “full” voucher, and then as people get wealthy the voucher gets smaller. I admit that you can describe that as “people who make less get more” and that’s not technically wrong. But I think that would be a misleading way to characterize it.

        The real point is that the sliding scale is not an alternative to a universal voucher that is available to all and the same for everybody. Rather, the sliding scale is an alternative to a poverty-only voucher where poor people get a voucher and everybody else gets diddly-squat. So compared to the alternative, the sliding scale is moving in the right direction, not the wrong one.

  2. Ben says:

    Greg or Jay, Do you know where someone could find a good layman’s summary of Dr. Ferreyra’s research findings? I found a copy of this report (http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/facultyAdmin/upload/ppaper_73911829066546_vouchers.pdf), but wondered if there was something in addition to the video I could publicize for broader consumption.

    Have a great Labor Day weekend!

  3. […] generally improve income and racial integration and improve educational outcomes.”  More here. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s