Dear Commons Community,
A new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper examines the effects of a decades-long decline in state funding for public universities. According to the results, the decrease has had, and will continue to have, damaging repercussions, suggesting reason to be concerned about the future of public higher education.
The study behind the paper, “Public Universities: The Supply Side of Building a Skilled Workforce,” was conducted by a team of researchers, who compared trends at public universities in states where cuts in higher-education funding have been steep, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, with those in states where appropriations for public institutions have remained fairly stable, like New York and Texas. The conclusion? That the continuing decline in state funding will very likely lead to a shortage of skilled workers with degrees, as well as the erosion of universities’ “long-term research capacity, which contributes to economic growth.”
It also illustrates how the decrease in funding has led many public institutions to adopt strategies for endowment growth traditionally associated with private universities. For the more elite public universities, that may undermine certain central goals, like funding general research and providing higher education to in-state students. For others, those strategies are simply out of reach.
At the study website, a good deal of the raw data is available and searchable by state.