Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Assistant Professor Phuong Nguyen has been selected to receive the 2012 Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Association for Education Finance & Policy (AEFP) for his dissertation entitled "Three essays on education policy and finance.” The award comes with an honorarium and will be announced at the AEFP Annual Conference in Boston in mid-March, 2012.

Phuong was commended for his excellent contribution to the field through his dissertation work, which as the AEFP Awards Committee Chairperson indicates, exemplifies the caliber of scholarship that the Association seeks to support.

This dissertation explores different education policies and education finance issues in three geographical places. The first essay written with John Yinger examines the impact on student performance of the education finance reform enacted in 1993 in Massachusetts and of a district’s institutional structure. Estimating education expenditure and demand functions, this essay presents evidence that changes in the state education aid following the education reform resulted in significantly higher student performance. Also, school officials and voters in the dependent school districts in Massachusetts respond to fiscal incentives in much the same way as those in independent school districts in other states. Finally, there are significant differences between regular school districts, which are linked to a single municipality, and regional school districts, which are linked to more than one.

This second essay published in Public Choice explores the effects of budget referendums on school inputs. Taking advantage of an exogenous enactment of budget referendums for small city school districts (SCSDs) in New York State in 1998, this essay finds empirical evidence that SCSDs reduce instructional spending and increase student-teacher ratios while preserving administrative spending in response to budget referendums. These empirical findings are obtained by difference-in-differences estimations on data processed with propensity score matching, and the results are robust to sensitivity analysis.

The third essay published in Education Economics looks into education finance system in Vietnam. More specifically, this essay is the first to conduct a cost function analysis for Vietnam. Also, it demonstrates how the results of the cost function analysis can be used to potentially address two weaknesses of the current norms for intergovernmental educational transfers in Vietnam. These norms neither are relevant for output-based budgeting purposes nor fully account for factors influencing provinces’ cost of delivering education. The cost function results can be used in the development of an intergovernmental transfer system that is more consistent with a focus on a more output-oriented adequacy standard of education equity.