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The Alma Mater Effect. Does Foreign Education of Political Leaders Influence Foreign Policy?

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  • Dreher, Axel
  • Yu, Shu

Abstract

We study whether national leaders' foreign education influences their foreign policy, measured by voting behavior at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). We hypothesize that "affinity"' - pre-existing or developed while studying abroad - makes leaders with foreign education more likely to vote with their host country. At the same time, such leaders need to show sufficient distance to their host country and demonstrate "allegiance"' to their own one, which will reduce voting coincidence. To test this theory we make use of data on the educational background of 831 leaders and the voting affinity between the countries they govern and those in which they studied. Over the 1975-2011 period, we find that foreign-educated leaders are less likely to vote in line with their host countries but more likely to vote in line with (other) G7 countries. We identify the causal effect of "allegiance" by investigating the differential effect of foreign education on voting in pre-election years compared to other years. The difference-in-difference-like results show that G7-educated leaders vote less in line with their host countries when facing an election. Overall, both "allegiance" and "affinity" affect foreign policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Dreher, Axel & Yu, Shu, 2016. "The Alma Mater Effect. Does Foreign Education of Political Leaders Influence Foreign Policy?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11450
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Dreher, Axel & Fuchs, Andreas & Hodler, Roland & Parks, Bradley C. & Raschky, Paul A. & Tierney, Michael J., 2015. "Aid on Demand: African Leaders and the Geography of China's Foreign Assistance," CEPR Discussion Papers 10704, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Dreher, Axel & Fuchs, Andreas & Parks, Bradley & Strange, Austin M. & Tierney, Michael J., 2016. "Apples and Dragon Fruits: The Determinants of Aid and Other Forms of State Financing from China to Africa," Working Papers 0620, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:eee:poleco:v:55:y:2018:i:c:p:244-257 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Axel Dreher & Katharina Michaelowa, 2008. "The political economy of international organizations," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 331-334, December.
    5. Anna Minasyan, 2016. "US Aid, US educated Leaders and Economic Ideology," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 215, Courant Research Centre PEG.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Foreign Education; leaders; United Nations General Assembly voting;

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations

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