Rik W. Hafer

Money is not the answer

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State address correctly identified education as a key policy area this year. This is due to the fact that Missouri’s educational record to date is middling at best. Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and his co-authors in a 2012 study compared gains in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores for math, reading, and science across states. Out of the 41 states for which assessment results are available, Missouri ranks 27th.

Gov. Nixon called upon the legislature to increase spending on K-12 education in Missouri by $278 million in 2014. Will spending more money on educating Missouri children push us to the head of the class? The chart above, taken from the Hanushek study, does not support the governor’s claim. As shown by the experience of many states over the past 20 years, spending more money on education does not guarantee marked improvements in student achievement.

The chart above indicates no reliable relationship between spending on education and educational success across states. The correlation is 0.12. In other words, the correlation between spending and student outcomes is essentially zero.

About the Author

Rik Hafer
Research Fellow

Rik Hafer is a Show-Me Institute research fellow and a professor of economics and the Director of the Center for Economics and the Environment at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri.