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Health and Economic Benefits of Reducing the Number of Students per Classroom in US Primary Schools

Muennig, Peter A.; Woolf, Steven H.

Objectives. We estimated the costs associated with reducing class sizes in kindergarten through grade 3 as well as the effects of small class sizes on selected outcomes such as quality-adjusted life-years and future earnings.

Methods. We used multiple data sets to predict changes in the outcomes assessed according to level of educational attainment. We then used a Markov model to estimate future costs and benefits incurred and quality-adjusted life-years gained per additional high school graduate produced over time.

Results. From a societal perspective (incorporating earnings and health outcomes), class-size reductions would generate a net cost savings of approximately $168 000 and a net gain of 1.7 quality-adjusted life-years for each high school graduate produced by small classes. When targeted to low-income students, the estimated savings would increase to $196 000 per additional graduate. From a governmental perspective (incorporating public expenditures and revenues), the results of reducing class sizes ranged from savings in costs to an additional cost of $15000 per quality-adjusted life-year gained.

Conclusions. Reducing class sizes may be more cost-effective than most public health and medical interventions.

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Also Published In

Title
American Journal of Public Health
DOI
https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2006.105478

More About This Work

Academic Units
Health Policy and Management
Publisher
American Public Health Association
Published Here
November 7, 2016
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