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Educational Content, Educational Institutions and Economic Development: Lessons from History

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  • Cantoni, Davide
  • Yuchtman, Noam

Abstract

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 to show how differences in educational content 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 investments in this new form of human capital. This had positive effects on Europe’s commercial and institutional development. In late 19th-century China, elites were afraid of the introduction of Western science and engineering and continued to select civil servants - who enjoyed substantial rents—based on their knowledge of Confucian classics. As a result, China lacked skills useful in modern industry. Finally, we present a variety of other contemporary and historical applications of this theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Cantoni, Davide & Yuchtman, Noam, 2012. "Educational Content, Educational Institutions and Economic Development: Lessons from History," Discussion Papers in Economics 12691, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:12691
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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 & 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Paola Azar Dufrechou, 2018. "Higher education and economic development: can public funding restrain the returns from tertiary education?," Working Papers wpdea1802, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Masella, Paolo, 2013. "Long-Lasting Effects of Socialist Education," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79865, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    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. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational Content; Educational Institutions; Political Economy; Development;

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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