A concentration of senior citizens in a community can be a financial boon to a school district, rather than an adversary, unless the group includes a high percentage of newcomers with few, if any, emotional ties with the area, according to two Penn State experts.
"The aging of America will not automatically exacerbate fiscal strains on public school systems and their community residents," says Dr. Michael B. Berkman, associate professor of political science. "A large influx of new arrivals can, however, have a negative impact on tax revenues, especially if tax policies such as property tax rebates are in place which, albeit well-meaning, can reduce annual per-pupil spending by hundreds of dollars." "When a state provides rebates to all elderly homeowners (including those who would have backed raises in school taxes), officials must either cut spending for schools or increase another tax," says Dr. Eric Plutzer, associate professor of political science and sociology. Berkman and Plutzer are co-authors of the paper, "Gray Peril or Loyal Support? The Effects of the Elderly on Educational Expenditures," published in a recent issue of Social Science Quarterly. Their study examined the impact of senior citizens on local spending for public school education.
The researchers used a data set of more than 9,000 school districts in 40 states, with persons age 60 years and older comprising 18.9 percent of the average school district in 1990. Ninety-one percent of those senior citizens had lived in the same county for more than five years.
Paul Blaum | EurekAlert!
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