Social Policies in an Age of Austerity

Social Policies in an Age of Austerity

A Comparative Analysis of the US and Korea

KDI/EWC series on Economic Policy

Edited by John Karl Scholz, Hyungypo Moon and Sang-Hyup Lee

Social Policies in an Age of Austerity is the first major publication on the topic, with a particular interest in the United States and the Republic of Korea. The authors of the ten chapters in this book review recent developments in social policies in OECD countries, with a focus on achieving greater effectiveness in public spending on social programs, under increasingly tight national budgets. The contributions cover social and fiscal policy and issues in labor market policy, in addition to the effectiveness of social insurance, education and antipoverty policy.

Chapter 7: Current themes in education policy in the United States

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, asian social policy, economics and finance, asian economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


Diane Schanzenbach provides an overview of recent trends in education policy in the United States, from kindergarten to the twelfth grade (K–12). She broadly discusses the input-based policies and market-based incentives to improve student achievement. The author begins with the major goal of education policy in the United States, which is concerned most with narrowing the gaps in educational attainment and skill levels between more advantaged and less advantaged students, notably those across racial groups and by socioeconomic status. Although the research base for education reform has expanded, the author observes that there is no overwhelming evidence in favor of a single policy change and that, at present, the literature is characterized more by disagreements than by consensus. Possibly the most straightforward policy in terms of implementation is to increase the funding available to schools. Studies of the results of such untargeted funding have produced mixed results, and many policymakers have concluded that such increases do not clearly lead to better student performance. As a result, policies have shifted toward targeted increases for specific inputs or for introducing market discipline to ensure that funding increases are used productively.

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