To Segregate or to Integrate: Education Politics and Democracy

David de la Croix, Matthias Doepke

NBER Working Paper No. 13319
Issued in August 2007
NBER Program(s):   ED   EFG   POL

The governments of nearly all countries are major providers of primary and secondary education to their citizens. In some countries, however, public schools coexist with private schools, while in others the government is the sole provider of education. In this study, we ask why different societies make different choices regarding the mix of private and public schooling. We develop a theory which integrates private education and fertility decisions with voting on public schooling expenditures. In a given political environment, high income inequality leads to more private education, as rich people opt out of the public system. More private education, in turn, results in an improved quality of public education, because public spending can be concentrated on fewer students. Comparing across political systems, we find that concentration of political power can lead to multiple equilibria in the determination of public education spending. The main predictions of the theory are consistent with state-level and micro data from the United States as well as cross-country evidence from the PISA study.

download in pdf format
   (282 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13319

Published: David De La Croix & Matthias Doepke, 2009. "To Segregate or to Integrate: Education Politics and Democracy," Review of Economic Studies, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 76(2), pages 597-628, 04. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Acemoglu, Johnson, Robinson, and Yared w11204 From Education to Democracy?
Glaeser, Ponzetto, and Shleifer w12128 Why Does Democracy Need Education?
Acemoglu and Angrist How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws
Hanushek and Somers w7450 Schooling, Inequality, and the Impact of Government
Epple, Figlio, and Romano w7956 Competition Between Private and Public Schools: Testing Stratification and Pricing Predictions
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us