Education and Social Capital
Education is usually the most important predictor of political and social engagement. Over the last half Century, educational levels in the United States have risen sharply, yet levels of political and social participation have not. Norman Nie, Jane Junn and Kenneth Stehlik-Barry (NJS-B) have offered a resolution to this paradox based on the distinction between absolute and relative education, with only relative education having positive effects on education. Using a broad range of data, including that used by NJS-B, this paper shows that increases in average education levels increases trust and does not reduce average participation levels. These results are found when we use a dynamic regional comparison group, theoretically preferable to NJS-B’s static national measure. Our results provide an optimistic conclusion about the effects of increases in education levels, while leaving open the explanation of declining participation levels. Our results suggest that exposure to television during childhood may play an important role in that story.
Volume (Year): 33 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
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