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Education and the Quality of Government

  • Juan Botero
  • Alejandro Ponce
  • Andrei Shleifer

Generally speaking, better educated countries have better governments, an empirical regularity that holds in both dictatorships and democracies. We suggest that a possible reason for this fact is that educated people are more likely to complain about misconduct by government officials, so that, even when each complaint is unlikely to succeed, more frequent complaints encourage better behavior from officials. Newly assembled individual-level survey data from the World Justice Project show that, within countries, better educated people are more likely to report official misconduct. The results are confirmed using other survey data on reporting crime and corruption. Citizen complaints might thus be an operative mechanism that explains the link between education and the quality of government.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18119.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Juan Botero, Alejandro Ponce, and Andrei Shleifer Journal of Law and Economics Vol. 56, No. 4 (November 2013), pp. 959-996 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18119
Note: PE POL
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  1. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Teaching Practices and Social Capital," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 189-210, July.
  2. Fabrice Murtin & Romain Wacziarg, 2014. "The democratic transition," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 141-181, June.
  3. Matteo Bobba & Decio Coviello, 2006. "Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Estimating the Effects of Education on Democracy," Research Department Publications 4472, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  4. Soares, Rodrigo R, 2004. "Crime Reporting as a Measure of Institutional Development," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 851-71, July.
  5. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Edwards & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2010. "The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dite09-1, December.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
  7. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  8. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Are There Civic Returns to Education?," NBER Working Papers 9588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Eight Questions about Corruption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 19-42, Summer.
  10. Soares, Rodrigo R., 2004. "Development, crime and punishment: accounting for the international differences in crime rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 155-184, February.
  11. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
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