Resisting Education

56 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2022 Last revised: 18 Oct 2023

See all articles by Jean-Paul Carvalho

Jean-Paul Carvalho

Department of Economics, University of Oxford

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Cole Williams

University of Vienna

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Date Written: September 23, 2023


Educational institutions not only build human capital; they also shape culture. We present a model of cultural dynamics produced by cultural transmission through the education system. Groups that are culturally marginalized are also economically disadvantaged and exhibit various forms of resistance to education. First, individuals may drop out of education to avoid its cultural content. Second, individuals may invest in other forms of socialization to tune out the cultural content of education. Finally, cultural communities may collectively resist mainstream education by turning out to change curricula or establish their own schools. We show that resistance to education can make it impossible for a policymaker to eliminate alternative cultural traits from the population. In fact, a policymaker may have to moderate the cultural content of education or else face a backlash which increases the spread of alternative cultural traits. Our analysis unifies a growing body of work on the effects of cultural policies and makes new predictions regarding the effect of socializing institutions on cultural dynamics.

Keywords: Education, cultural transmission, ideology, cultural resistance

JEL Classification: I2, Z1, D10, D71

Suggested Citation

Carvalho, Jean-Paul and Koyama, Mark and Williams, Cole, Resisting Education (September 23, 2023). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 22-28, 2022, Available at SSRN: or

Jean-Paul Carvalho (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, University of Oxford ( email )

10 Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Mark Koyama

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States


George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Cole Williams

University of Vienna ( email )

Bruenner Strasse 72
Vienna, Vienna 1090

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