Public school reform, expectations, and capitalization: What signals quality to homebuyers?


This paper offers new evidence on how housing markets capitalize school quality information. We use school assessment measures and house transaction data from a single school district that is coterminous with a unified city-county local government to examine the effects of two school assignment policy changes. The unusual school district-city-county government structure minimizes property tax rate and public service variation across observations, reducing the source of one problem that plagues many capitalization studies. The school reassignment events reveal direct ties between school quality capitalization and households' expectations-the latter reflected in private school enrollment and tax referendum voting. Different school performance measures convey different information to home owners. In particular, student test scores do not affect house prices when broader school performance measures are published. Prices respond to measured school improvement, but improvements in a given school are more highly valued than being reassigned to a better school.

Publication Title

Southern Economic Journal

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