Volume 25/1996-1997 contents | Duke Policy News Online | Sanford Institute


High-Priced Higher Ed

Charles Clotfelter, the Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy Studies, says that the increasing tuition and fees at elite universities is both problematic and puzzling. In his new book, Buying the Best: Cost Escalation in Elite Higher Education (Princeton University Press, 1996), Clotfelter examines the soaring tuition, fees and budgets at Duke, Harvard, Carleton College, and the University of Chicago. He finds that spending increases cannot be attributed entirely to market prices, faculty compensation, financial aid or administrative expenses. Rather, Clotfelter's research suggests, a combination of institutional pursuit of excellence and favorable market conditions led to the explosive growth in expenditures during the 1980s.

The rate of tuition increase at prestigious private universities and colleges must eventually moderate, Clotfelter says, because the demand is just not there to the same degree as it was in the 1980s. Clotfelter worries about what could happen if elite universities can no longer afford "need blind" admissions, which provide opportunities and scholarships to students who otherwise could not afford such schools. "If these institutions were collectively to decide not to go that route, it would have profound implications for the nation," says Clotfelter, who is also director of the Institute's Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism.

TV and Power in Russia

Television has played a striking role in the breakup of the Soviet Union and the transition to democracy in Russia, according to Ellen Mickiewicz, the James. R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy Studies. In Changing Channels: Television and the Struggle for Power in Russia (Oxford University Press, 1997), Mickiewicz provides the first in-depth study of television from the Gorbachev era through Boris Yeltsin. She analyzes the rise of modern, televised campaigning in post-Soviet Russia-the use of free television time for unmediated candidate messages, editorial coverage by news organizations, and political advertising. In the absence of strong and predictable legal protections, and in the face of economic hardship and civil conflict, television remains a key political target for Russia's rulers, says Mickiewicz, who is also director of the Sanford Institute's DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism, and a Fellow at The Carter Center. Changing Channels includes vivid interviews with major political figures, policymakers and news executives recalling their critical decisions and their impact on the role of state and non-state television. Survey data, research literature and analysis of a decade of TV programs support Mickiewicz's study.

NAS Studies Education Finance

PPS Professor Helen "Sunny" Ladd, director of the Institute's Graduate Studies Program, is co-chairing a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Education Finance: Equity, Adequacy and Productivity. She and co-chair Tom Sobol, the former New York State Commissioner of Education, are directing a group of 17 leading experts on education finance, organizational sociology and management, education and learning, and law. The goals of the project are:

The committee will report its recommendations to Congress in 1999.

The Violence Market

Terminator and chlorofluorocarbons. Lethal Weapon II and mercury. The pairing of violent movies and environmental pollutants is not at all idiosyncratic, says James Hamilton, director of Duke's Program on Violence and the Media.

"At its core, television violence is a problem of market failure very similar to that of pollution," says Hamilton, assistant professor of public policy studies, political science and economics. "When the market fails to make polluters realize the full cost, in terms of their product, to society, we get unchecked pollution. When television producers are not made to realize the full cost, particularly to children, of producing violent shows, we get television that can be toxic."

Those concerns are the focus of Hamilton's forthcoming book, Channeling Violence: The Economic Market for Violent Television Programming (Princeton University Press). Three years in the writing, the book takes on TV violence as a public policy issue, both in its negative effect on children and its role in the election and re-election of politicians. "What I'm doing in the book is exploring how programmers understand their markets and examining what changes in the way shows are rated will do to sponsorship," Hamilton explains.

Volume 25/1996-1997 contents | Duke Policy News Online | Sanford Institute