How Information Affects Support for Education Spending: Evidence from Survey Experiments in Germany and the United States

Martin R. West, Ludger Woessmann, Philipp Lergetporer, Katharina Werner

NBER Working Paper No. 22808
Issued in November 2016
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Public Economics, Political Economy

We study whether current spending levels and public knowledge of them contribute to transatlantic differences in policy preferences by implementing parallel survey experiments in Germany and the United States. In both countries, support for increased education spending and teacher salaries falls sharply when respondents receive information about existing levels. Treatment effects vary by prior knowledge in a manner consistent with information effects rather than priming. Support for salary increases is inversely related to salary levels across American states, suggesting that salary differences between the two countries could explain Germans’ lower support for increases. Information about the tradeoffs between different categories of education spending shifts preferences away from class-size reduction and towards alternative purposes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22808

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