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Schooling and Political Participation Revisited

  • Davin Chor


    (School of Economics, Singapore Management University)

  • Filipe R. Campante


    (Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University)

We investigate how the link between individual schooling and political participation is affected by country characteristics. We introduce a focus on a set of variables-namely factor endowments-which in uence the relative productivity of human capital in political versus production activities. Using micro data on individual behavior, we find that political participation is more responsive to schooling in land-abundant countries, and less responsive in human capital-abundant countries, even while controlling for country political institutions and cultural attitudes. We develop these ideas in a model where individuals face an allocation decision over the use of their human capital. A elative abundance of land (used primarily in the least skill-intensive sector) or a scarcity of aggregate human capital will increase both the level of political participation and its responsiveness to schooling, by lowering the opportunity cost of production income foregone. In an extension, we further consider the problem of how much schooling a utility-maximizing ruler would choose to provide. An abundance of land tends to increase political participation ex post, and hence will lead the ruler to discourage human capital accumulation, a prediction for which we find broad support in the cross-country data. Our model thus owners a framework which jointly explains patterns of political participation at the individual level and differences in public investment in education at the country level.

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Paper provided by Singapore Management University, School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 05-2008.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision: Sep 2008
Publication status: Published in SMU Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:siu:wpaper:05-2008
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