Abstract

Between 1999 and 2018, 210 shootings have occurred on public school campuses in the United States. The increased need for security and student support may crowd out instructional resources post-shooting. Shootings may also cause students, especially those from socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds, to move away, leading to declines in enrollment. Both changes in the budget allocation and the student composition could exert a negative impact on achievement. First, we examine the effects of campus shootings on public school districts’ revenue, expenditure, debt, and staffing using a long panel of district-year data. Results from event study and difference-in-differences analyses indicate that shootings increase per-pupil spending by $248, which is funded primarily through increased federal transfers. Most spending increases occur in noninstructional functions, such as pupil support services, and capital projects, but they do not crowd out instructional spending. Using school-level data, we show that shootings are followed by a decline in enrollment, driven almost exclusively by reductions in students who do not receive free- or reduced-price lunch. Private schools in the area also experience enrollment drop. In sum, despite the increased intergovernmental transfers, campus shootings reduce the desirability of the community and lead to the exit of relatively well-off families.

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