The Impact of Education Funding on Voter Turnout
In this video, I examine the statistical relationship between per pupil education funding and voter turnout later in life. This video is for the Student Research Days 2021 Competition. If the poster is hard to see in the video, here is a direct link where it should be viewable: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:2ba9a885-dda8-4af5-8d39-3a41f3e9a4cc.
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[00:00:00.640]Hi, my name is Ellie Anderson
[00:00:02.810]and I am a sophomore marketing and finance double major.
[00:00:06.100]I am currently a part of the Business Honors Academy
[00:00:08.750]and completed my research study
[00:00:10.600]through a political science class
[00:00:11.910]I took last semester, as well as my job
[00:00:14.330]at the Bureau of Business Research.
[00:00:16.770]The research question I will be presenting
[00:00:18.530]to you today is, "What is the impact
[00:00:20.850]of per pupil education funding in one's youth
[00:00:23.440]on whether they vote later in life?"
[00:00:25.710]Or put more simply,
[00:00:27.527]"What is the impact of education funding on voter turnout?"
[00:00:31.540]There were a few reasons I wanted to know
[00:00:33.160]the answer to this question,
[00:00:34.720]starting with my high school debate career.
[00:00:37.000]My sophomore year the policy debate topic
[00:00:39.210]was education reform and a huge topic of discussion
[00:00:42.460]on the matter was disparate education funding.
[00:00:45.180]Across states and even within states,
[00:00:47.750]different students were and still are receiving
[00:00:50.740]thousands of dollars difference
[00:00:52.290]in educational resources each year.
[00:00:55.110]There're studies on how this differential funding
[00:00:57.150]affects educational attainment, future income, and more,
[00:01:01.030]but nothing on how disparate levels
[00:01:02.690]of education reform may affect civic participation
[00:01:05.690]later in life.
[00:01:06.970]I became curious and thought I would try to find
[00:01:09.070]a relationship myself.
[00:01:10.930]This has wide implications generally
[00:01:12.840]as education funding levels are often determined
[00:01:15.810]in local, state and federal elections.
[00:01:18.870]So whether or not people are voting on these things
[00:01:21.180]has a huge impact.
[00:01:23.750]To examine my research question,
[00:01:25.510]we first start in the methods section.
[00:01:27.690]I first had to determine how I would collect my data
[00:01:30.130]on the independent and dependent variables.
[00:01:32.630]For my independent variable, per pupil education funding,
[00:01:36.160]I utilized the 2001 Public Education Finances Report
[00:01:39.780]from the U.S. Census Bureau.
[00:01:41.820]Within the report, I was able to collect the average
[00:01:44.390]per pupil education funding within each of the 50 states,
[00:01:47.850]as well as the District of Columbia,
[00:01:49.830]for public K-12 schools.
[00:01:51.900]This includes local, state and federal funding.
[00:01:56.120]For my dependent variable,
[00:01:57.800]I simply collected voter turnout rates in each state
[00:02:00.610]for the 2016 election, utilizing data that only highlighted
[00:02:04.550]turnout among the VEP, or voting eligible population,
[00:02:08.690]in each state to ensure only people
[00:02:10.779]that could actually partake in the voting process
[00:02:13.160]were included so as not to skew the results.
[00:02:16.420]You may be curious as to the year differentials
[00:02:18.700]between my data.
[00:02:20.080]Now in 2001, I collected data on education finances
[00:02:23.960]and in 2016 for voter turnout.
[00:02:26.490]This was because I wanted to ensure that everyone
[00:02:29.120]in the K-12 education system at the time of the funding data
[00:02:33.270]would be of voting age by the 2016 election.
[00:02:36.600]Now this is not a perfect representation as the Bureau
[00:02:39.280]doesn't always report education finances each year,
[00:02:42.540]and it doesn't take into account older voters
[00:02:44.620]who went to school previously.
[00:02:46.610]The Census Bureau didn't even start publishing
[00:02:48.600]these reports until 1994.
[00:02:51.220]For the sake of this study,
[00:02:52.440]we assume that the education funding
[00:02:54.330]in a state remains relatively steady over time,
[00:02:56.960]which is mostly true.
[00:02:58.400]From the 1994 report to the 2001 report,
[00:03:01.530]numbers remained relatively stable.
[00:03:04.010]We also assume in this study that the majority
[00:03:06.550]of individuals choose to remain living and working
[00:03:09.340]in the state that they grew up in.
[00:03:11.260]The North America Moving Services Study
[00:03:13.940]reports that 72% of Americans remain within the same city
[00:03:18.200]or a neighboring city of where they grew up.
[00:03:20.780]And of the people that don't remain in a close city,
[00:03:23.630]30% of them will still remain in the same state
[00:03:26.250]they grew up in.
[00:03:27.550]So these assumptions aren't too crazy.
[00:03:31.160]I then regressed turnout
[00:03:33.380]on education funding and found a positive
[00:03:35.620]and statistically significant relationship
[00:03:38.070]of a 1.441% increase for every thousand dollars spent
[00:03:42.900]on education funding in a state with a P value of 0.018.
[00:03:47.750]However, controls needed to be added, so I focused
[00:03:50.620]on two variables that had a known impact on voter turnout.
[00:03:54.350]These were median household income,
[00:03:56.290]which I then divided by median home value in a state,
[00:03:59.250]to get a more real depiction of the variable.
[00:04:02.340]And my second variable was percentage non-white in a state.
[00:04:06.230]I utilized 2016 data from the Census Bureau
[00:04:08.820]and the Kaiser Family Foundation to measure these variables
[00:04:11.850]on a state-by-state level.
[00:04:13.920]When adding these control variables,
[00:04:15.920]I expected a significant change in the relationship
[00:04:18.680]between education and voter turnout
[00:04:20.830]due to a high correlation between education funding
[00:04:23.630]and median income.
[00:04:25.220]However, the relationship stayed relatively consistent
[00:04:28.340]with the positive and statistically significant increase
[00:04:31.300]in 1.23 percentage points in voter turnout
[00:04:35.600]for every thousand dollars in education funding,
[00:04:38.020]and a P value of 0.032.
[00:04:40.870]In addition, when adding these variables,
[00:04:43.110]the R square value increased by 2.229,
[00:04:47.020]indicating a better model
[00:04:48.410]to determine the relationship variables.
[00:04:50.950]Thus, from the finding of the results,
[00:04:52.708]we can expect an increase in voter turnout for states
[00:04:56.550]that provide higher education funding for a pupil,
[00:04:59.730]even if the relationship is not a super big one.
[00:05:03.430]You can also see the graph here that I've created
[00:05:06.450]as a visual representation that shows
[00:05:09.850]per pupil education funding by the thousands
[00:05:12.810]measured against voter turnout by state and percentage-wise.
[00:05:16.540]While it's not a super dramatic increase,
[00:05:19.260]you can see that it's relatively stable that if a state
[00:05:22.910]spends more money on education funding,
[00:05:25.430]they're more likely to have higher voter turnout.
[00:05:27.660]However, we do see a few outliers.
[00:05:30.370]Now, in terms of the limitations of this report,
[00:05:33.330]due to time constraints I experienced
[00:05:35.000]while conducting this research,
[00:05:36.600]there is still much more to be explored on this question.
[00:05:39.810]So I have a few recommendations for future researches
[00:05:42.680]on this topic, or myself, if I continue the research.
[00:05:46.870]First, even utilizing the two control variables
[00:05:49.810]discussed above, the R squared is only 0.338,
[00:05:54.110]leaving room to find a better explanatory model
[00:05:56.550]for the question.
[00:05:58.010]I would recommend adding the variables
[00:05:59.730]of Democrat or Republican vote share by state,
[00:06:03.550]percentage of population living in a major city
[00:06:06.040]in each state, and average teacher salary by state,
[00:06:09.770]as all of these factors could have an impact
[00:06:11.790]on both the X and Y variables.
[00:06:14.480]For the variable of teacher salary,
[00:06:16.190]it could even be useful to divide
[00:06:18.100]average per pupil education funding by teacher salary
[00:06:21.660]in each state to see how much of an impact
[00:06:24.400]average teacher salary has on funding levels.
[00:06:28.620]In addition, potential future ways to mitigate assumptions
[00:06:32.340]of the study would be to average per pupil funding levels
[00:06:35.200]over many years to encompass the entire voting population
[00:06:38.620]at a given time.
[00:06:40.030]However, as mentioned above, education finance reports
[00:06:43.350]only go back to the 90s,
[00:06:44.900]making this a difficult feat to accomplish any time soon.
[00:06:48.420]Lastly, this study does not include data
[00:06:50.720]on private or charter schools,
[00:06:52.550]which is not typically readily available to the public
[00:06:55.280]and could be benefited from
[00:06:56.630]by the addition of these numbers.
[00:06:59.020]In conclusion, there is a positive
[00:07:01.290]and statistically significant relationship
[00:07:03.450]between education funding and voter turnout,
[00:07:06.050]but much research still needs to be done.
[00:07:08.800]I would like to thank Dr. Jeff Lorenz
[00:07:11.250]in the political science department
[00:07:12.950]for helping me to formulate my research question
[00:07:15.050]and conduct initial research,
[00:07:16.750]as well as my bosses, Dr. Mitch Hereon
[00:07:19.270]and Dr. Eric C. Thompson at the Bureau of Business Research
[00:07:22.620]for encouraging me to continue my research,
[00:07:24.810]observed my results from a variety of angles,
[00:07:27.630]and helped me get my research to where it is today.
[00:07:30.240]For anyone interested in receiving
[00:07:31.810]the actual research poster presented
[00:07:33.820]with hyperlinks attached, please attach me,
[00:07:36.560]or please email me at EAnderson38@Huskers.unl.edu
[00:07:42.030]and I will send it over.
[00:07:43.610]Please do the same with any questions you may have.
[00:07:46.330]Thank you so much for watching
[00:07:47.650]and I hope you have a great day.
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