Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China

58 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2011 Last revised: 29 Dec 2014

Latika Chaudhary

Naval Postgraduate School

Aldo Musacchio

Brandeis University- International Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research

Steven Nafziger

Williams College

Se Yan

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management

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Date Written: July 21, 2011

Abstract

Our paper provides a comparative perspective on the development of public primary education in four of the largest developing economies circa 1910: Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). These four countries encompassed more than 50 percent of the world’s population in 1910, but remarkably few of their citizens attended any school by the early 20th century. We present new, comparable data on school inputs and outputs for BRIC drawn from contemporary surveys and government documents. Recent studies emphasize the importance of political decentralization, and relatively broad political voice for the early spread of public primary education in developed economies. We identify the former and the lack of the latter to be important in the context of BRIC, but we also outline how other factors such as factor endowments, colonialism, serfdom, and, especially, the characteristics of the political and economic elite help explain the low achievement levels of these four countries and the incredible amount of heterogeneity within each of them.

Keywords: Brazil, Russia, India, China, economic history, education, political economy, elites

JEL Classification: N30, O15, I22, I28

Suggested Citation

Chaudhary, Latika and Musacchio, Aldo and Nafziger, Steven and Yan, Se, Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (July 21, 2011). Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 11-083. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1759315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1759315

Latika Chaudhary

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

1 University Circle
Monterey, CA 93043
United States

Aldo Musacchio (Contact Author)

Brandeis University- International Business School ( email )

415 South Street MC 32
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/people/aldo_musacchio

Steven Nafziger

Williams College ( email )

Williamstown, MA 01267
United States

Se Yan

Peking University - Guanghua School of Management ( email )

Peking University
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

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