Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Russell S Sobel


The dissertation is a collection of essays examining three topics in the economics of education. The essays focus on the institutional structure of local and national education and the implications that demographics and institutional structure has on the productivity and financing of education. The first chapter introduces my essays by providing a brief overview of the economic study of education and highlights some of the major areas of research overlapping the topics covered in this dissertation. Chapter 2 looks at the impact of racial diversity on school performance. A measure of racial diversity is constructed for Ohio school districts to investigate the net effect of racial diversity on school district performance on statewide exams. The empirical results of this chapter suggest that racial diversity negatively affects school district performance. Chapter 3 considers the impact of interjurisdictional competition in the choice of a tax base. A spatial probit model is used on Ohio school district data to investigate two issues: (1) do school districts engage in yardstick competition' in their choice of an income tax; and (2) does the negative impact of interjurisdictional competition disappear once yardstick competition is taken into account. The empirical evidence shows that districts do engage in yardstick competition but that controlling for yardstick competition does not affect the significance of interjurisdictional competition. Chapter 4 examines the role of institutions in the return to human and physical capital. A theoretical model is developed where the effect of the change in capital on the rate of growth depends on the level of institutional quality. The empirical model is estimated using cross-country data, where measures of a country's institutions are interacted with their growth rates of physical and human capital. The empirical results suggest that the institutional environment is very important in translating human and physical capital accumulation into economic growth. Chapter 5 summarizes the key findings of previous chapters and discusses areas of future research.