Financing public education when agents have retirement concerns

Authors: Daniel Montolio, Amedeo Piolatto and Luca Salvadori

Economic Inquiry, May, 2022

We study, theoretically and empirically, the link between voters' support for public education and pensions. We show that the (inter-generational) redistributive component of the retirement system creates a link between current spending on education and future pensions. Specifically, investments in education increase the young's productivity and, hence, future tax proceeds that will finance the current workers' pension. Consequently, the support for publicly financed education grows together with the generosity and degree of redistribution of the retirement system. The empirical analysis uses repeated cross-country surveys to confirm the model predictions.