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Self-Interest in Public Service: Evidence from School Board Elections

In this paper, we show that the election of a new school board member causes home values in their neighborhood to rise. This increase is identified using narrowly-decided contests and is driven by non-Democratic members, whose neighborhoods appreciate about 4% on average relative to those of losing candidates. We find that student test scores in the neighborhood public schools of non-Democratic winners also relatively increase, but this effect is driven by changing student composition, including via the manipulation of attendance zones, rather than improvements in school quality (as measured by test score value-added). Notably, we detect no differential changes when comparing neighborhood or scholastic outcomes between winning and losing Democratic school board candidates. These results suggest that partisan affiliation is correlated with private motivations for seeking public office.

school boards, school quality, political selection
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Billings, Stephen B., Hugh Macartney, Geunyong Park, and John D. Singleton. (). Self-Interest in Public Service: Evidence from School Board Elections. (EdWorkingPaper: 22-539). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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