November 2016

IZA DP No. 10357: How Information Affects Support for Education Spending: Evidence from Survey Experiments in Germany and the United States

published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2018, 167, 138-157

To study whether current spending levels and public knowledge of them contribute to transatlantic differences in policy preferences, we implement parallel survey experiments in Germany and the United States. In both countries, support for increased education spending and teacher salaries falls when respondents receive information about existing levels. Treatment effects vary by prior knowledge in a manner consistent with information effects rather than priming. Support for salary increases is inversely related to salary levels across American states, suggesting that salary differences could explain much of Germans' lower support for increases. Information about the tradeoffs between specific spending categories shifts preferences from class-size reduction towards alternative purposes.