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Why Does Democracy Need Education?

  • Edward Glaeser
  • Giacomo Ponzetto
  • Andrei Shleifer

Across countries, education and democracy are highly correlated. We motivate empirically and then model a causal mechanism explaining this correlation. In our model, schooling teaches people to interact with others and raises the benefits of civic participation, including voting and organizing. In the battle between democracy and dictatorship, democracy has a wide potential base of support but offers weak incentives to its defenders. Dictatorship provides stronger incentives to a narrower base. As education raises the benefits of civic participation, it raises the support for more democratic regimes relative to dictatorships. This increases the likelihood of democratic revolutions against dictatorships, and reduces that of successful anti-democratic coups.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12128.

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Date of creation: Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12128
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