The price of free education: an investigation into the voluntary donation funding system in New Zealand state schools
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This research program aimed to identify the factors that influence the Voluntary Donation payment decision in a cohort of parents (N = 250) with a child (or children) at a New Zealand state school. A voluntary donation is a charitable contribution to the running of the school collected from the parents of the school’s students. A survey questionnaire was constructed to examine the attitudes parents hold towards the voluntary donation funding system, the current New Zealand Government and the school the respondent’s child attends. The parents were ‘naturally’ separated into two conditions based on their last voluntary donation payment decision – Paid versus Not Paid – to compare the differences in attitudes on the various statements from the survey and their demographic composition. The results revealed that payment decision was positively correlated with educational achievement, annual household income and age. Individual contributions exhibited strong positive relationships with beliefs about the contributions of others, which was consistent with previous public goods field experiments. The research extended the existing public goods research by examining the social norms of voluntary donation behaviour and assimilating the results with theories of altruism, conditional cooperation and reciprocity. The strongest overall contribution to the prediction of payment decision was parents’ attitudes towards the current Government and the voluntary donation funding system. The results identified that pressures existed in the voluntary donation environment, a result most prevalent in high decile schools. Additionally, a marginal level of comprehension of the voluntary donations characterised the majority of respondents. Overall, the research found that the best predictor of contribution was attitudes towards the voluntary donation funding system.