The Social Cost of an Outdated Law: Article 16 of the Greek Constitution

Posted: 24 Jan 2003

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Article 16 of the Greek Constitution stipulates that higher education is provided free in state institutions, and that private universities are prohibited. The paper digs into the historical origins of such provisions and discusses the reasons why, in spite of national outcry, the article has survived with no revision since it first appeared several decades ago. Closely linked to article 16, is the fact Greece has a world record of students studying abroad relative to its population. Standard economic analysis is used to assess the net social cost to the country of maintaining article 16. Links are made to the quality of university education provided by the state institutions, the foreign exchange drain to universities abroad, the lack of the benefits of competition by not allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in Greece, as well as the benefits of having foreign-educated graduates returning to Greece. The above efficiency arguments are complemented by distributional considerations on who has benefited, or lost, by the free state provision of university education.

Keywords: Greece, Higher education, Constitution, Education finance

JEL Classification: I22, I28, K00

Suggested Citation

Psacharopoulos, George, The Social Cost of an Outdated Law: Article 16 of the Greek Constitution. Available at SSRN:

George Psacharopoulos (Contact Author)

Georgetown University

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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