The graying of America and support for funding the nation's schools

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37 Scopus citations


Surveys spanning more than 35 years show that older Americans are less likely than younger citizens to endorse increased spending on public schools. The conventional explanation for this generational cleavage presumes that citizens' interests change as they approach or transition into retirement - the absence of school-age children and fixed incomes combine to lower their interest in supporting spending increases for public education. We show that the conventional wisdom is incorrect, based on a confusion of age and cohort effects. Cohort-period analysis shows that every cohort becomes more supportive of educational spending, rather than less, as they reach their 60s and 70s. The implications are important, for they suggest that the predicted "gray peril" to educational spending will not occur. Rather, our results suggest that public support for educational spending will continue its remarkable rise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-86
Number of pages21
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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