Growth in per-pupil education spending in the United States was mostly flat until 1918, after which it increased by almost 100 percent in a brief six-year period. This is the fastest documented increase in per-pupil education spending in U.S. history. Using newly digitized biennial data on 386 of the largest urban school systems in the United States from 1900 to 1930, I investigate the origins of this spending increase. I first document that there was significant expansion in all spending and revenue categories with particularly large increases in capital expenditures, which were likely financed through borrowing. My results suggest that state education policies were largely ineffective in increasing school resources, as laws increasing state aid to local districts crowded out local receipts while compulsory schooling and English-only laws were not accompanied by increases in receipts or expenditures per pupil. Rather, I find that substantial increases in educational spending per pupil were linked to women's suffrage. Providing women with the right to vote can explain about 20 percent of the increase in per pupil spending from 1900 to 1930.

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