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Schooling and Political Participation in a Neoclassical Framework: Theory and Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Campante, Filipe R.

    (Harvard U)

  • Chor, Davin

    (Singapore Management U)

Abstract

We investigate how the link between individual schooling and political participation is affected by country characteristics. We introduce a focus on a set of variables--namely factor endowments--which influence the relative productivity of human capital in political versus production activities. Using micro data on individual behavior, we find that political participation is more responsive to schooling in land-abundant countries, and less responsive in human capital-abundant countries, even while controlling for country political institutions and cultural attitudes. We develop these ideas in a model where individuals face an allocation decision over the use of their human capital. A relative abundance of land (used primarily in the least skill-intensive sector) or a scarcity of aggregate human capital will increase both the level of political participation and its responsiveness to schooling, by lowering the opportunity cost of production income foregone. In an extension, we further consider the problem of how much schooling a utility-maximizing ruler would choose to provide. An abundance of land tends to increase political participation ex post, and hence will lead the ruler to discourage human capital accumulation, a prediction for which we find broad support in the cross-country data. Our model thus offers a framework which jointly explains patterns of political participation at the individual level and differences in public investment in education at the country level.

Suggested Citation

  • Campante, Filipe R. & Chor, Davin, 2008. "Schooling and Political Participation in a Neoclassical Framework: Theory and Evidence," Working Paper Series rwp08-043, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp08-043
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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