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Can Autocracy Promote Literacy? Evidence from a Cultural Alignment Success Story

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  • Jaime Reis
  • Nuno Palma

Abstract

Do countries with less democratic forms of government necessarily have lower literacy rates as a consequence? Using a random sample of more than 9000 individuals from military archives in 20th century Portugal, we show that 20-year old males were 50% more likely to end up literate under a nondemocratic regime than under a more democratic one. Our results are robust to controlling for a host of factors including economic growth, the disease environment, and regional fixed-effects. We argue for a political economy and cultural explanation for the relative success of the authoritarian regime in promoting basic education.

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  • Jaime Reis & Nuno Palma, 2018. "Can Autocracy Promote Literacy? Evidence from a Cultural Alignment Success Story," Economics Discussion Paper Series 1805, Economics, The University of Manchester, revised May 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:man:sespap:1805
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    Cited by:

    1. Cermeño, Alexandra L. & Palma, Nuno & Pistola, Renato, 2021. "Stunting and wasting in a growing economy:biological living standards in Portugal,1924-1994," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 585, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Alexandra L. Cermeño & Nuno Palma & Renato Pistola, 2021. "Stunting and Wasting in a Growing Economy: Biological Living Standards in Portugal during the Twentieth Century," Economics Discussion Paper Series 2110, Economics, The University of Manchester, revised Apr 2022.
    3. Tomas Cvrcek & Miroslav Zajicek, 2019. "The rise of public schooling in nineteenth-century Imperial Austria: Who gained and who paid?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 13(3), pages 367-403, September.
    4. Kedrosky, Davis & Palma, Nuno, 2021. "The Cross of Gold: Brazilian Treasure and the Decline of Portugal," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 574, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    5. Cvrcek, Tomas & Zajicek, Miroslav, 2019. "The making of a liberal education: Political economy of the Austrian school reform, 1865 – 1880," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-1.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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