Which Political Activities Are Caused by Education? Evidence from School Entry Exams

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See all articles by Dominik Hangartner

Dominik Hangartner

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Stanford - Zurich Immigration Policy Lab; Public Policy Group

Lukas Schmid

University of Lucerne

Dalston Ward

ETH Zurich

Stefan Boes

University of Lucerne

Date Written: October 9, 2020

Abstract

Research on education's effect on participation is split between those who argue that education is a ``universal solvent'' that causally increases participation and those who hold that education merely proxies for pre-adult differences, with no independent effects. We incorporate a calculus of participation into the education-participation nexus to predict education’s effects for political activities that vary in their costs and benefits. We test these predictions with quasi-random variation in education caused by entry exams into upper-level secondary schools in Switzerland and participation measures from an original survey of former students conducted 40 years later. Comparing former students who narrowly passed or failed their exam, we find that an additional year of education increases electoral and low-cost non-electoral participation. We find no effects on high-cost non-electoral participation, however. These findings suggest that, rather than being a universal solvent or a mere proxy, education's effect depends on the characteristics of political activities.

Keywords: political participation; education; entry exams; regression discontinuity design

Suggested Citation

Hangartner, Dominik and Schmid, Lukas and Ward, Dalston and Boes, Stefan, Which Political Activities Are Caused by Education? Evidence from School Entry Exams (October 9, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Dominik Hangartner (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Departments of Government and Methodology
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Stanford - Zurich Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Public Policy Group ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Lukas Schmid

University of Lucerne ( email )

Hofstrasse 9
P.O. Box 7464
Luzern 7, CH - 6000
Switzerland

Dalston Ward

ETH Zurich ( email )

Zürich
Switzerland

Stefan Boes

University of Lucerne ( email )

Frohburgstrasse 3
P.O. Box 4466
Lucerne, Lucerne CH - 6002
Switzerland

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