Abstract

How do the elderly influence school spending if they are a minority of the population? We estimate the determinants of school spending in a median voter model, comparing four assumptions about how the elderly influence the identity of the median voter. Using a county-level panel, we find that elderly preferences are best characterized by assuming all elderly or all elderly migrants vote with the poor. Having more elderly results in a median voter who is further down the community's income distribution. This median voter is poorer, which lowers preferred school spending, and faces a lower tax price, which raises preferred school spending. The evidence suggests that the income effect is slightly larger than the price effect, so the elderly on net cause a very small drop in spending. Thus the widespread concern about the negative impact of population aging on school funding seems to be misplaced.

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