NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Nation-Building and Education

Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano. Bryony Reich

NBER Working Paper No. 18839
Issued in February 2013, Revised in January 2019
NBER Program(s):Political Economy

Nations stay together when citizens share enough values and preferences and can communicate with each other. Democracies and dictatorships have different incentives when it comes to choosing how much and by what means to homogenize the population, i.e. “to build a nation”. We study and compare nation-building policies under the transition from dictatorship to democracy in a model where the location and type of government and the borders of the country are endogenous. We find that the threat of democratization provides the strongest incentive to homogenize. We focus upon a specific nation-building policy: the provision of mass primary education. As a motivation, we offer historical discussions of several episodes in the nineteenth century and suggestive correlations for a large sample of countries over the 1925-2014 period.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18839

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