Technocratic Autocracy, Higher Education and Social Mobility
82 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020 Last revised: 31 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 28, 2020
We study the capture of higher education by the Pinochet dictatorship following the 1973 military coup in Chile. Echoing the views of their mentors in the Chicago School, the regime’s technocrats sharply reduced government funding for higher education. This led to a steady reduction in the number of openings for incoming college students and caused a large decrease in enrollment for cohorts reaching college age in the following years. Contrary to the technocrats' claim that universities were bloated and had low returns, we find that the affected cohorts had worse economic outcomes throughout the life cycle and struggled to climb up the socioeconomic ladder. Decades after democratization, children with a parent in these cohorts also have a lower probability of college enrollment. These findings shed light on the long-lasting costs of Pinochet’s technocratic reforms and cast doubt on the view that non-democracy may be desirable at early stages of development.
Keywords: Dictatorship, university, technocracy, Chile, Chicago Boys
JEL Classification: H52, I23, I24, I25
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation