Re: Reforming Education

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 8 Oct 1999 19:31:52 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 8 Oct 1999, Dan Fabulich wrote:

> Apparently Bryan Moss wrote:
> > Question: Do parents, the people who would be funding this operation
> > in the absense of the state, have any serious economic incentives to
> > give their children a good education? I'm saying a big NO.

My parents struck a very interesting balance with myself and my brothers -- they said we had to pay half. Now this was in the day and age when someone 17-22 could probably save half a year of college tuition in a summer of work. But I would say from personal experience that it is both a good compromise & motivator.

Now, Bryan has an interesting point with regard to the economic investment in a child. Presumably a parent never would want to act in such a way that their actions make their previous investment "worthless". (So generally, you don't kill children, you don't move to someplace where there are no taxes *and* no schools, etc.)

In theory the economic incentive for parents to provide or fund an education is the desire to maximize the value of their previous investment. Now the point at which this fails is when the perceived benefit from that investment falls below the perceived investment.

> Yes, that explains why parents never pay lots of money to send their kids
> to high quality private schools. And why no parent would ever sacrifice
> his/her life for the life of their child.

Yes, the "perceived benefits" are very wide ranging. The most superficial (but nonetheless real) are those of a parent touting the acceptance or success of their child at an exclusive institution to a "competitor" whose children have not achieved similar success.