An Economic Theory of Homeschooling

Brian Baugus

Advisor: Richard E. Wagner

Committee Members: Charles K. Rowley, Jerry Ellig, The Mercatus Center

Enterprise Hall, 318
April 19, 2009, 08:00 PM to 07:00 PM


The public school system is a well financed organization run by professional administrators and staffed by teachers well educated in learning methodologies and specific subject areas.  State support of the education system is the dominant education method in every industrialized country in the world and many of the less industrialized nations as well.

 However there is a small but growing education alternative emerging in the United States and elsewhere called homeschooling.  In homeschooling the parents choose to abandon the well financed professionally run school organization and educate their children at home with the parents serving as teacher and administrator.  The initial analysis of this homeschooling movement was that it started among some small anti-social fringe groups who wanted to avoid mainstream culture. As time passed it became obvious this initial analysis was inaccurate.  Homeschooling is much more accepted and widely practiced and not confined to the fringe elements of society.   The question this book investigates is why do people choose to homeschool?  What is it that motivates parents to walk away from all the advantages of the public school system and choose to educate their child at home?

 This investigation analyzes homeschooling families by making one assumption, they are rational economic actors.  It then uses the tools of economics to explain why they make the choices they make and proposes an economic theory of homeschooling.