Why Does Democracy Need Education?

46 Pages Posted: 15 May 2006  

Edward L. Glaeser

Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government, Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto

CREI - Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

Across countries, education and democracy are highly correlated. We motivate empirically and then model a causal mechanism explaining this correlation. In our model, schooling teaches people to interact with others and raises the benefits of civic participation, including voting and organizing. In the battle between democracy and dictatorship, democracy has a wide potential base of support but offers weak incentives to its defenders. Dictatorship provides stronger incentives to a narrower base. As education raises the benefits of civic participation, it raises the support for more democratic regimes relative to dictatorships. This increases the likelihood of democratic revolutions against dictatorships, and reduces that of successful anti-democratic coups.

Suggested Citation

Glaeser, Edward L. and Ponzetto, Giacomo A. M. and Shleifer, Andrei, Why Does Democracy Need Education? (April 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12128. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=896068

Edward L. Glaeser (Contact Author)

Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government, Department of Economics ( email )

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Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto

CREI - Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

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Spain
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+34 93 542 2826 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.crei.cat/people/ponzetto/welcome.html

Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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United States
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HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/~ashleife/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

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