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International Handbook on the Economics of Education

Edited by Geraint Johnes and Jill Johnes

This major Handbook comprehensively surveys the rapidly growing field of the economics of education. It is unique in that it comprises original contributions on an exceptional range of topics from a review of human capital, signalling and screening models, to consideration of issues such as educational externalities and economic growth, funding models, determinants of educational success, the educational production function, educational standards and efficiency measurement. Labour market issues such as the market for teachers and the transition of students from school to work are also explored.
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Chapter 10: The Economics of Secondary Schooling

Steve Bradley and Jim Taylor


Steve Bradley and Jim Taylor I Introduction The expense of the institutions for education and religious instruction, is likewise, no doubt, beneficial to the whole society, and may, therefore, without injustice, be defrayed by the general contribution of the whole society. This expense, however, might perhaps with equal propriety, and with some advantage, be defrayed altogether by those who receive the immediate benefit of such education and instruction, or by the voluntary contribution of those who think they have occasion for either one or the other. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book 5, Chapter 1, p. 298) As we have seen, both the imposition of a minimum required level of schooling and the financing of this schooling by the state can be justified by the ‘neighbourhood effects’ of schooling. A third step, namely the actual administration of educational institutions by the government, the ‘nationalisation’, as it were, of the bulk of the ‘education industry’ is much more difficult to justify on these, or, as far as I can see, any other, grounds. (Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, p. 89) The debate about the most appropriate method of providing mass education has a very long history, though the intensity of this debate has fluctuated according to the ability of the state to provide ‘quality’ education at any particular time or in any particular place. The critique of state-provided education is often based on the observation of large numbers of young people with no, or low, quali...

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