The Economic Geography of School Districts

William A. Fischel

in Making the Grade

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226251301
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226251318 | DOI:
The Economic Geography of School Districts

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This chapter explains the differences in the geographic size of school districts by region of the country, especially why the South's school districts are so much larger in area. Race has a lot to do with it, but not always in ways that one would expect. The chapter examines the metropolitan structure of school districts to examine the parameters of “Tiebout competition,” in which households choose among different school districts to buy their homes. There is a lot of competition, but, more surprisingly, the variation in the competitive structure of urban districts is largely the product of previous rural conditions. Finally, the chapter presents the evidence that, despite their differing functions, legal status, and governance, school districts and municipal governments are not strangers to one another. The chapter has made a case for thinking about school districts in a national rather than a state-by-state context. The generalizations about school districts presented in the chapter are based primarily on political and population patterns that vary by region rather than by state.

Keywords: economic geography; school districts; race; metropolitan structure; rural conditions

Chapter.  23365 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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