Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China
Our paper provides a comparative perspective on the development of public primary education in four of the largest developing economies circa 1910: Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). These four countries encompassed more than 50 percent of the world's population in 1910, but remarkably few of their citizens attended any school by the early 20th century. We present new, comparable data on school inputs and outputs for BRIC drawn from contemporary surveys and government documents. Recent studies emphasize the importance of political decentralization, and relatively broad political voice for the early spread of public primary education in developed economies. We identify the former and the lack of the latter to be important in the context of BRIC, but we also outline how other factors such as factor endowments, colonialism, serfdom, and, especially, the characteristics of the political and economic elite help explain the low achievement levels of these four countries and the incredible amount of heterogeneity within each of them.
For very helpful comments and suggestions, the authors would like to thank Peter Lindert, David Mitch, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and the participants at seminars at the University of Pennsylvania and Caltech and at the Economic History Association meeting in Evanston, IL. Nafziger and Yan received support from NSF (SES-0922531). Yan also acknowledges support from NSSFC grant (Project No. 09CJL009). Any remaining errors are the responsibility of the authors. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Chaudhary, Latika, Aldo Musacchio, Steven Nafziger, and Se Yan. "Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China." Explorations in Economic History 49, no. 2 (April 2012): 221-240 citation courtesy of