Review of The Economic Benefits of New York City’s Public School Reforms, 2002-2013

Robert J. Shapiro and Kevin A. Hassett
Sonecon, Inc.
March 31, 2014

The Economic Benefits of New York City’s Public School Reforms, 2002-2013 attempts to estimate the economic impact of school reforms implemented during the tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The report focuses on two types of effects: direct effects on the earnings of students graduating under the reforms (who might not otherwise have done so), and indirect effects of higher graduation rates and charter school availability on residential property values. The aggregate impact on earnings and property values is estimated to exceed $74 billion. While such estimates are always an exercise in some level of speculation, this report relies on highly inappropriate assumptions to reach its conclusions. Specifically, it attributes all gains in high school completion and college enrollment to the reforms, applies national statistics on earnings and college completion to the marginal graduate in NYC, and extrapolates cross-sectional associations between graduation rates and home prices at the zip code level as the causal effect of higher graduation rates. Without taking away from the real educational and economic gains that many students experienced during this period, this seriously flawed analysis should be taken by no one as a credible estimate of its economic impact.