Education a top priority

June 16, 2017

Almost 80 percent of respondents support more or even much more spending on education, whereas only 20 percent would support more spending on defense policy. In a number of countries, a majority of respondents is even willing to pay higher taxes in order to finance additional spending on education. The details of the study have been published as online pre-prints in the Journal of European Social Policy and the Journal of European Public Policy.

The survey was conducted via computer-assisted telephone interviews as part of the project "Investing in Education in Europe: Attitudes, Politics and Policies" (INVEDUC), which is financed with a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). It significantly advances scientific knowledge as it is the first international comparative survey of public opinion on details of . It provides evidence on public attitudes on education spending and financing, the distribution of financial and other resources across different sectors of the education system, the governance of education as well as potential fiscal trade-offs between educational investments and other social policies.

The survey covers eight countries with different types of welfare states: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Italy. In order to achieve the best possible data quality, the university's researchers collaborated with a professional survey institute specialising in international comparative surveys. One further innovative feature of the survey is to include experimental components: "Different from previous surveys, we examined whether public support for higher education expenditures changes when people are confronted with various kinds of budget constraints", explains Marius Busemeyer.

When participants were asked to name just one out of several key areas of the - besides education, these were, for instance, labour market policy, pensions, family policy, health care or social assistance - education policy did best at an approval rate of 29%, closely followed by health policy (22%). Other supposedly popular social policies such as pensions or family policy ranked considerably lower. A majority of participants supported greater state spending on education in countries like Germany and Italy, where expenditure is below average.

When asked about which sectors of education should be prioritized, respondents assigned top priority to general school education and and training (VET). Across all countries, 62 percent of respondents demanded more or even much more spending in these two sectors. This is surprising given the fact that public debates often focus on expanding opportunities in early child education and higher education. In direct comparison, however, the public rather supports additional investments in general schools and VET.

In basically all surveyed countries, support for VET is higher than for higher education. This is especially true for countries like Italy or Spain, which suffer from high levels of youth unemployment rates. Germany, which is doing well in this respect, makes for the exception to the rule: here, expanding early child education is considered the more urgent issue.

Then there's the money problem: in view of shrinking public budgets, political attempts to increase education spending can pose a challenge. In order to gauge the robustness of public support for education spending when confronted with budget constraints, the survey contains experimental components, which confronts citizens with different trade-off scenarios. The survey evidencereveals that, as long as people did not have to worry about how to finance additional spending on education, more than 73% came out in favour of more or even much more investment in education. When reminded that this would involve tax hikes or greater national debt, support dropped to 54% and 42% respectively. This effect is even more pronounced in cases where more spending on education would lead to cutbacks in other areas of the welfare state, such as pensions. In this case, support for education plummets to 27%. These findings show that politicians keen on expanding public spending face tough choices, because they are often forced to finance additional spending with cutbacks or tax hikes.

Generally, cutting back spending on other areas of the welfare state is less popular than tax increases or increasing the national debt. Across countries, a majority of respondents would accept higher taxes to bolster the education budget. Here, too, general school education and vocational education and training are deemed particularly worthy of investment with 57% of respondents expressing a willingness to pay additional taxes for the former and 54% for the latter, respectively. In Sweden, the discrepancy between popular demands for more education spending and people's actual willingness to pay higher taxes is relatively small. In Germany, however, respondents were less willing to tolerate higher taxes: 60% support greater spending, but only 44% would be prepared to accept higher taxes in return.

Explore further: Canadian public favourable to increased education spending, according to opinion survey

More information: Marius R. Busemeyer et al, Public opinion on policy and budgetary trade-offs in European welfare states: evidence from a new comparative survey, Journal of European Public Policy (2017). DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2017.1298658

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18 comments

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MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jun 17, 2017
For a few fleeting moments I thought that the article was about the US. Here in the US that is always the answer to poor student performance, throw more money at it. The fact is that we spend the most per student and rank way down the list in student achievement.
rderkis
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 17, 2017
Here in the US that is always the answer to poor student performance, throw more money at it. The fact is that we spend the most per student and rank way down the list in student achievement.


The answer is primarily in the student's parents.
Da Schneib
3 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2017
What do you say to someone who is against education? I mean, seriously.

What do you even say to agree with them? Teh stupid is teh better?

Is there anyone who really thinks it's better to be stupid than smart? Bueller? Hello?
MR166
1 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2017
"What do you say to someone who is against education? "

Right, so by your logic there should be no limits on the costs to educate a student. Perhaps there should be one teacher and one administrator per student. Here in the US property taxes in some counties are almost confiscatory and what do we have to show for it, ignorant high school graduates. More money is not the answer but culture reform is.

I very rarely down vote but the ignorance of your statement really warranted it.
ForFreeMinds
5 / 5 (1) Jun 18, 2017
""Different from previous surveys, we examined whether public support for higher education expenditures changes when people are confronted with various kinds of budget constraints"

It would have been better if they asked if they'd be willing to spend more on these areas if they had to pay for them out of their own pocket.

It would be better to research whether or not government should be involved in these areas by asking people if they support paying taxes for such spending, or whether people who benefit should be paying for it. But given this was a government funded study, it's against their financial interest to ask such questions, and prefer to assume government should be stealing from Peter for Paul's benefit.
rderkis
3 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2017
What we should ask is, if they are willing to pay their fair share for their security as a sovereign country. Then ask if any of the remainder should be spent on education.
Or perhaps they had rather lose their freedom and become a soviet block.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2017
What do you say to someone who is against education?

He probably believes chocolate milk comes from brown cows ...as 7% of americans do.
http://edition.cn...dex.html

Now THAT is a scary number. I think the US would do good of spening a bit more on education.

It would be better to research whether or not government should be involved in these areas by asking people if they support paying taxes for such spending, or whether people who benefit should be paying for it.

It would be a nonsensical question to ask in Europe. People here belive that everyone should have access to the same quality of education - no matter whether you're rich or poor. Success in educational institutions should only be determined by your abilities - not your wallet.

I know this may seem weird to an american who are used to buying success with the money of their parents. But that's just not how things (are supposed to) work over here.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2017
It would have been better if they asked if they'd be willing to spend more on these areas if they had to pay for them out of their own pocket.
Why, because you don't want to have to pay taxes for schools? You'd rather live in a society of stupids who have no choice but to be criminals because they never got educated? You *want* to be victimized by the law of unintended consequences, and drag the rest of us down with you?

Seriously. The entire point of education is to gentrify society; to make it so most people you meet share your values, and most people share enough knowledge to see bad things coming and do something about it. Did you never think of this?

Your "freedom" seems to be freedom to suffer, not freedom to live well.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2017
@antialias, agree completely. Those who do not wish to pay taxes for all children to be educated elect a brutal society of each against everyone in blind stupidity, no matter what they claim. I had far rather deal with educated youngsters. They generally won't point guns at me to make me do what they want.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
Right, so by your logic there should be no limits on the costs to educate a student.
Buckminster Fuller showed long, long ago (in the 1960s) that if we revised the patent system so that royalties for patents and copyrights were split between the inventor or creator and the education system, it would pay for education for everyone and create more patents and copyrights and more royalties. The percentage of royalties would be small, and everyone would get an education as a human right.

Besides, we already have a system for ensuring that education is not wasted on those who cannot use it. It's called "grades." Maybe you forgot. I expect that's because you didn't get good ones.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2017
What we should ask is, if they are willing to pay their fair share for their security as a sovereign country. Then ask if any of the remainder should be spent on education.
Asking stupids to pay for the education of smarts is a losing proposition; you are the best proof of that. The rest of us, however, would like to not have teen gangs roaming the streets; and giving them options is what education is all about. If you elect stupidity you will get what you pay for and the rest of us will get to suffer the brutal society you have elected in your blind idiocy right along with you.

Worth mentioning that most terrorists are recruited because they didn't do well in school; where this is due to failure of the system, it is avoidable.

I'd like to see a show of hands for those who think that making terrorists because you're not willing to pay taxes is OK. I will take it as a vote for teh stupid.
Da Schneib
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
In case it's not clear, I am in favor of education to the level each student is capable of achieving. I think this is the best plan for society in general; I don't think it matters what religion or ethnic group or national origin or sex or class or creed or heritage or skin color or race or any subjective thing else affects the knowledge that is gained or the predilection to organized civil society that is inculcated. Asking the uneducated to participate in a modern human society is like asking orangutans to try to figure it out without any clues they can process.

I think this is one of the most important threads on physorg that I have ever participated in.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2017
Right, so by your logic there should be no limits on the costs to educate a student

Money on education should be spent so that each pupil gets the same chance to succeed.
The aim of education is not to cram ever more facts into students. The aim is to produce students that can think critically and find that being educated has so many benefits (from social to political to job prospects) that they are motivated to start educating themselves further. It also helps innoculate them against demagoguery.

This does not require 'ever more money'. It just requires enough and spending it in a sensible way.

As for 'how much'? Think how much money is spent on each soldier and then compare to each pupil - and then ask yourself what is more important: A soldier or a functional member of society?
MR166
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
"but to be criminals because they never got educated"

Here might be the root of the problem. Education is not a passive endeavor, it is something that must be earned. Everyone in the US has an opportunity to earn an education and more money will not help those that do not. That being said, the inner cities in the US are a terrible place to learn. THIS IS NOT A MONEY PROBLEM but a cultural one. The culture of poverty and ignorance needs to be changed!
MR166
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
People often look at the rich and think that they got where they are due to privilege. Yes that helps but the real reason they are successful is due to their culture. That is how people in the US climb the economic ladder. They are exposed to good role models. If you associate with successful people the odds of doing well in life dramatically increases.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
Yes that helps but the real reason they are successful is due to their culture.

Sooo...crime is a culture to aspire to?
...making laws to suit your particular interests (lobbying) is a culture to aspire to?

Are these really 'good' role models? I must have a different definition of 'good' than some people.

If you associate with successful people the odds of doing well in life dramatically increases

At risk of invoking a Godwin, here - but that is exactly the attitude that made the Nazis succeed. Is that the sort of thing you aspire to in life? Bootlick the rich and powerful in the hopes that they drop you some crumbs (also called piss-on...erm...trickle down economy)? How has that worked out for the american public in the past decades? All statistics say: not so well.

The rich aren't rich because they are so generous to those who kiss up to them. They are rich because they abuse these people's fantasy of 'successful-by-association'.
MR166
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
Well Anti I suppose that I know where your head is. The rich are criminals eh.! Does that apply to the political class to? I thought not since you are one of those big central government solves all types.
MR166
not rated yet Jun 19, 2017
Here is how the school racket works in the US. Teachers and the school board lobby the parents of school age children to raise the budget. They promise that each child will learn much more if only we had the money to attract better teachers. The parents agree and vote to raise the school taxes. The the kids graduate and then the very same parents move because the property taxes are so high in their town.

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