Public expenditures and the production of education


  • Stephen R. Neely University of South Florida School of Public Affairs
  • Jeffrey Diebold North Carolina State University



education production function, school finance, education policy, education finance


The relationship between public education expenditures and student outcomes remains an important concern for policy analysts, educational administrators, and the public at large. While previous studies have failed to identify a consistent relationship between public investments in education and positive student outcomes, most analyses have not accounted for the different educational goals associated with various instructional expenditure categories. This study builds on prior research by using Pennsylvania’s public school districts to test proposed improvements in model specification for the traditional education production function. Using longitudinal, fixed-effects models, a detailed disaggregation of instructional expenditures is undertaken in order to account for the likelihood that different instructional subcategories (i.e. regular programming, special education, and vocational instruction) influence student outcomes in varying ways. The results suggest that the impact of expenditures may be understated in previous studies based on a failure to account for these distinctions, particularly in the case of Mathematics education.


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Author Biographies

Stephen R. Neely, University of South Florida School of Public Affairs

Dr. Neely holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration from North Carolina State University. He is an assistant professor at the University of South Florida. He currently teaches courses in research methods and public policy at the University of South Florida’s School of Public Affairs. He conducts research in the areas of public affairs education and K-12 education policy.

Jeffrey Diebold, North Carolina State University

Dr. Diebold is an assistant professor at North Carolina State University where he teaches public policy analysis and quantitative research methods. His research interests include social welfare policy, pension and retirement policy, and research design.





How to Cite

Neely, S. R., & Diebold, J. (2016). Public expenditures and the production of education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24, 88.