Liberal Democracy and Education-Based Inequality in the Post-Cold War Era

75 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2020

See all articles by Junyan Jiang

Junyan Jiang

Columbia University

Kin-Man Wan

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Faculty of Social Science, Department of Government & Public Administration, Students

Date Written: January 5, 2020

Abstract

A widely held belief about democracy is that it contributes to greater equality among citizens. We challenge this view by arguing that certain features of liberal democracy, including voluntary participation and protection of private rights, may exacerbate a particular form of inequality based on educational attainment. To substantiate this claim, we analyze two major cross-country, multi-year surveys matched to regime-level characteristics. Using both a within-country estimator and an instrumental variables approach, we find that the difference in emotional and material well-being between the more educated and less educated becomes substantially larger as a country's political institutions converge to the liberal democratic model. We provide further evidence on the posited mechanisms by showing that liberal democracy fosters a greater participation gap and more polarized economic attitudes between high- and low-education groups. We discuss the normative implications of our findings and their relevance for understanding the current wave of global populism.

Keywords: liberal democracy, democratization, education, inequality, survey, instrumental variables

Suggested Citation

Jiang, Junyan and Wan, Kin-Man, Liberal Democracy and Education-Based Inequality in the Post-Cold War Era (January 5, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3514091 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3514091

Junyan Jiang (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Kin-Man Wan

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Faculty of Social Science, Department of Government & Public Administration, Students ( email )

Hong Kong

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