What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and House Prices

David N. Figlio, Maurice E. Lucas

NBER Working Paper No. 8019
Issued in November 2000
NBER Program(s):Children, Public Economics

Throughout the last decade, many states around the country have begun making public student test scores or other evaluative measures of school quality available to the general public. The most recent trends in state policies under consideration, already enacted in Florida and a n major component of George W. Bush's education platform, involve the assignment of letter grades to rate school quality. Because school quality is one of a group of local public goods purchased along with a house, one would anticipate that additional information about school quality would capitalize into real estate values. This paper takes the first look at the role that this type of added information plays in the capitalization of school quality measures. We use rich student test score and housing value data from a medium-sized Florida school district, one of the nation's 200 largest, to directly investigate this link. Using data on repeat sales of properties before and after the assignment of school letter grades, we find significant evidence that arbitrary distinctions embedded in school report cards lead to major housing price effects.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8019

Published: Figlio, David N. and Maurice E. Lucas. "What's In A Grade? School Report Cards And The Housing Market," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(3,Jun), 591-604.

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