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Curriculum and Ideology

  • Davide Cantoni
  • Yuyu Chen
  • David Y. Yang
  • Noam Yuchtman
  • Y. Jane Zhang

We study the causal effect of school curricula on students' stated beliefs and attitudes. We exploit a major textbook reform in China that was rolled out between 2004 and 2010 with the explicit intention of shaping youths' ideology. To measure its effect, we present evidence from a novel survey we conducted among 2000 students at Peking University. The sharp, staggered introduction of the new curriculum across provinces allows us to identify the effects of the new educational content in a generalized difference in differences framework. We examine government documents articulating desired consequences of the reform, and identify changes in textbook content and college entrance exams that reflect the government's aims. These changes were often effective: study under the new curriculum is robustly associated with changed views on political participation and democracy in China, increased trust in government officials, and a more skeptical view of free markets.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20112.

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Date of creation: May 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20112
Note: DAE DEV LS POL
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  1. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "The Political Economy of Educational Content and Development: Lessons from History," CESifo Working Paper Series 4221, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Antonio Spilimbergo, 2007. "Democracy and Foreign Education," IMF Working Papers 07/51, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
  4. Martinez-Bravo, Monica & Padró i Miquel, Gerard & Qian, Nancy & Yao, Yang, 2011. "Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China," CEPR Discussion Papers 8368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Cantoni, Davide, 2012. "A Tear in the Iron Curtain: The Impact of Western Television on Consumption Behavior," CEPR Discussion Papers 9101, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Ulrike Malmendier & Stefan Nagel, 2011. "Depression Babies: Do Macroeconomic Experiences Affect Risk Taking?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 373-416.
  7. Yoav Benjamini & Abba M. Krieger & Daniel Yekutieli, 2006. "Adaptive linear step-up procedures that control the false discovery rate," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 93(3), pages 491-507, September.
  8. 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.
  9. Willa Friedman & Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2011. "Education as Liberation?," NBER Working Papers 16939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Matthew A. Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004. "Media, Education, and anti-Americanism in the Muslim World," Microeconomics 0402005, EconWPA.
  11. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
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