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The political economy of educational content and development: lessons from history

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  • Cantoni, Davide
  • Yuchtman, Noam

Abstract

Beyond years of schooling, educational content can play an important role in the process of economic development. Individuals' choices of educational content are often shaped by the political economy of government policies that determine the incentives to acquire various skills. We first present a model in which differences in human capital investments emerge as an equilibrium outcome of private decisions and government policy choices. We then illustrate these dynamics in two historical circumstances. In medieval Europe, states and the Church found individuals trained in Roman law valuable, and eventually supported productive investments in this new form of human capital. In late 19th-century China, elites were threatened by the introduction of Western science and engineering and continued to select civil servants—who enjoyed substantial rents—based on their knowledge of the Confucian classics; as a result, investments in productive, modern human capital were not made.

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  • Cantoni, Davide & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "The political economy of educational content and development: lessons from history," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91507, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:91507
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    Cited by:

    1. Fan Li & Prashant Loyalka & Hongmei Yi & Yaojiang Shi & Natalie Johnson & Scott Rozelle, 2016. "Ability Tracking and Social Capital in China’s Rural Secondary School System," LICOS Discussion Papers 37916, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    2. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2014. "Medieval Universities, Legal Institutions, and the Commercial Revolution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 823-887.
    3. Chen, Yuyu & Naidu, Suresh & Yu, Tinghua & Yuchtman, Noam, 2015. "Intergenerational mobility and institutional change in 20th century China," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 44-73.
    4. Pawel Bukowski, 2015. "What Determines The Long-Run Persistence of the Empires? The Effect of the Partition of Poland on Education," CEU Working Papers 2015_3, Department of Economics, Central European University.
    5. Philippe Aghion & Xavier Jaravel & Torsten Persson & Dorothée Rouzet, 2019. "Education and Military Rivalry," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 376-412.
    6. Bai, Ying, 2019. "Farewell to confucianism: The modernizing effect of dismantling China's imperial examination system," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    7. Davide Cantoni & Yuyu Chen & David Y. Yang & Noam Yuchtman & Y. Jane Zhang, 2017. "Curriculum and Ideology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 338-392.
    8. Fan Li & Prashant Loyalka & Hongmei Yi, 2016. "Ability Tracking and Social Capital in China’s Rural Secondary School System," Working Papers id:10972, eSocialSciences.
    9. Bautista, M. A. & González, F. & Martínez, L. R. & Muñoz, P. & Prem, M., 2020. "Chile’s Missing Students: Dictatorship, Higher Education and Social Mobility," Documentos de Trabajo 018163, Universidad del Rosario.
    10. Bukowski, Paweł, 2019. "How history matters for student performance. lessons from the Partitions of Poland," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 136-175.
    11. Bukowski, Paweł, 2018. "How history matters for student performance: lessons from the Partitions of Poland," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 90643, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. Flechtner, Svenja & Panther, Stephan, 2017. "Global and domestic inequalities and the political economy of the midde-income trap," Working Paper Series Ök-29, Cusanus Hochschule für Gesellschaftsgestaltung, Institut für Ökonomie.
    13. Koyama, Mark & Xue, Melanie Meng, 2015. "The Literary Inquisition: The Persecution of Intellectuals and Human Capital Accumulation in China," MPRA Paper 62103, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Teaching to the tests: An economic analysis of traditional and modern education in late imperial and republican China," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 70-90.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    educational content; educational institutions; political economy; development;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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