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Education and economic development. The influence of primary schooling on municipalities in nineteenth-century France

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  • Adrien Montalbo

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

Abstract

The impact of education on growth or individual earnings has been vastly studied in economics. However, much remains to know about this association before the mid-20th century. In this article, I investigate the effect of primary schooling on the economic devel- opment of French municipalities during the 19th century and up to World War I. Before the Guizot Law of 1833, no national legislation on primary schooling existed in France. Therefore, I evaluate if the municipalities with higher educational achievements before this law grew more than their counterparts during the following years. To do so, I exploit first the fact that the Guizot Law forced municipalities over 500 inhabitants to open and fund a primary school for boys. I implement a regression discontinuity around this cut-off on municipalities with no primary school in 1833. Second, I instrument educational achieve- ment, namely enrolment rates and schooling years, by the proximity of municipalities to printing presses established before 1500. Each method returns a positive impact of edu- cation on development. Education quality also mattered in this perspective. A matching estimation on municipalities with a school in 1833 indicates a positive impact of better teaching conditions provided by public grants on the subsequent growth of municipalities. Primary schooling is therefore an important factor which favoured the development of French municipalities during the century of industrialisation and modernisation.

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  • Adrien Montalbo, 2019. "Education and economic development. The influence of primary schooling on municipalities in nineteenth-century France," PSE Working Papers halshs-02286126, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-02286126
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