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State Intervention in English Education, 1833-1891: A Public Goods and Agency Approach

  • Martin West
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    By anachronistically attributing the origin and growth of popular education entirely to state intervention, standard histories of state education have failed to delimit sufficiently the states role in educational development. This paper offers a theoretically based examination of the British states intervention in the emerging market for popular education in England during the nineteenth century. It complements conventional neoclassical analysis with recent developments from the fields of methodological individualism and new institutional economics to identify the specific reasons the state first became involved in mass education. The eventual national system of state-provided, free elementary schools, managed by local representative bodies and funded in part through local rates is re-conceptualized as an imperfect solution to problems inherent in achieving an optimal level of schooling in the emerging mass market for education.

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    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 2000-W37.

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    Date of creation: 01 Oct 2000
    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:2000-w37
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