Education from a Public Finance Perspective

Topics: Public good, Education, History of education Pages: 2 (622 words) Published: February 25, 2013
Is Education a Public Good?
When making the determination on what is and is not to be considered a public good, it is important to recall the definition of a public good. “[A] public good is nonrival and no excludable.” (Rasen & Gayer, 2010) According to this definition, education is not a public good. As schools down size or the general population increases, individual schools find their student to teacher ratios to be larger than desired. As more and more students are paired with a single teacher, they will find themselves competing for the necessary personal time. In addition to students having to compete for their education, A small number of students will also be excluded from certain courses do to class size restrictions or low test scores. When discussing this topic with a number of my pears, everyone seemed to consider education as a public good. When I told them that Education doesn’t meet the definition of a public good, they argued back with all of the ways are society benefits from the public education system. This helped me realize that while education is not a public good, it does pose a large number of positive externalities. While there are a large number of positive externalities that are created by education, the two leading examples that are commonly debated over are civic engagement and democracy, and an educated work force. Many make the argument that in order to sustain a democratic society, each prevailing member of this society must have received the minimum amount of education necessary to promote such a society. This was first argued by Milton Friedman in 1955 when he wrote: A stable and democratic society is impossible without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens and without widespread acceptance of some common set of values. Education can contribute to both. In consequence, the gain from the education of a child accrues not only to the child or to his parents but also to other members of the...

Cited: Friedman, m. (1955). The Role of Governent in Education. 2.
Hanushek, E. (2002). Publicly Provided Education. In A. J. Auerbach, & M. Feldstein, Handbook of Public Economics (pp. 2045-2141). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Rasen, H. S., & Gayer, T. (2010). Public Finance. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
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