Monday, October 17, 2011 8:04pm

Education

Public school students would receive a higher quality education if they all had the option of taking the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could use towards covering the costs of any private school or public school of their choice (e.g. charter schools).

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel
Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 5
Vouchers likely to improve things in short run given the awful state of US public schools. But we know little about their long run effects.
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Uncertain 5
The evidence is mixed on the benefits of school choice.
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Disagree 6
Maddeningly sweeping! Some students would benefit and the average effect might indeed be positive. But some students would surely be harmed.
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Uncertain 6
Those using vouchers would likely be better off, but others might be worse - need to consider system-level and distributional effects.
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Uncertain 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Agree 5
The kids whose parents don't pay attention or are poorly informed can be worse off. Otherwise agree.
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Disagree 8
More motivated and able students would take advantage of the vouchers, but the students left behind would likely be worse off.
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Uncertain 7
The existing alternatives to public schools are not all of uniformly higher quality; adverse selection is a big deal too.
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Strongly Disagree 7
And what about the kids that don't take up the vouchers?
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Uncertain 2
Maybe yes. And maybe those left behind would do worse. The equilibrium could be tough.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Agree 6
On the plus side, incentives are better under vouchers. On the negative side, decision making might be in the hands of those with less info
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Uncertain 10
I think the majority of public school students would be better off, but certainly not all. The question is ambiguous about the percent.
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Disagree 6
Treating students as clients does not improve education. Evidence on voucher programs very mixed - no robust evidence of positive effects.
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldin Claudia Goldin Harvard Agree 9
Many public school students would benefit but some with little choice might not. On net it would be beneficial and increase competition.
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Agree 7
Competition is likely beneficial on average. Less clear that all students would benefit leading to tough ?s about social welfare functions
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Agree 5
The problem with cashing out public support of education is that parents are the agents of children and some parents are poor agents.
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Strongly Agree 10
There is enough in avg student's per-pupil budget for a solid supply-side response-i.e. what's needed for widespread benefits of competition
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Uncertain 6
I do not believe that all students would be better off.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Agree 3
Hard to know what the equilibrium will be, but so many kids are trapped now eventually most of them would have better choices.
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Agree 3
If peer effects are important, could have most gain but some lose.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Lazear Edward Lazear Stanford Agree 7
The main disadvantage to vouchers is potential weakening of public schools. But those that would lose students are terrible already.
Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Uncertain 5
Hard to give a blanket answer to this question
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Uncertain 5
This is a complicated question with arguments on both sides.
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Disagree 3
Hard to predict what a privatized school system would look like.
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Uncertain 3
The issues and caveats strike me as far too complex for 140 characters.
Bio/Vote History
         
Rouse Cecilia Rouse Princeton Disagree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Disagree 6
Many would of course benefit, but those in rural areas or with irresponsible parents wouldn't. Charters aren't magic.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Stock James Stock Harvard Uncertain 4
School choice has merits but the system is complex and long-term effects on both private and public education is unclear.
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Strongly Agree 9
It's the only way to break the unions. Why do that? Fran Tarkenton said it all in his recent WSJ op ed piece.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Agree 6
Hurray for charter schools but to go to full vouchers it is necessary to deal with possible unraveling if no schools want the bottom kids.
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Zingales Luigi Zingales Chicago Strongly Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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