Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. And the U.K

37 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2003 Last revised: 1 Nov 2010

See all articles by Kevin S. Milligan

Kevin S. Milligan

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Enrico Moretti

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Date Written: March 2003

Abstract

Many economists and educators of diverse political beliefs favor public support for education on the premise that a more educated electorate enhances the quality of democracy. While some earlier studies document an association between schooling and citizenship, little attempt has been made to address the possibility that unobservable characteristics of citizens underlie this relationship. This paper explores the effect of extra schooling induced through compulsory schooling laws on the likelihood of becoming politically involved in the US and the UK. We find that educational attainment is related to several measures of political interest and involvement in both countries. For voter turnout, we find a strong and robust relationship between education and voting for the US, but not for the UK. Using the information on validated voting, we find that misreporting of voter status can not explain our estimates. Our results suggest that the observed drop in voter turnout in the US from 1964 to 2000 would have been 10.4 to 12.3 percentage points greater if high school attainment had stayed at 1964 rates, holding all else constant. However, when we condition on registration, our US results approach the UK findings. This may indicate that registration rules present a barrier to low-educated citizens' participation.

Suggested Citation

Milligan, Kevin S. and Moretti, Enrico and Oreopoulos, Philip, Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. And the U.K (March 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9584. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=389454

Kevin S. Milligan (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Enrico Moretti

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/~moretti/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
38
Abstract Views
1,459
PlumX Metrics