Curriculum and Ideology
We study the causal effect of school curricula on students' stated beliefs and attitudes. We exploit a major textbook reform in China that was rolled out between 2004 and 2010 with the explicit intention of shaping youths' ideology. To measure its effect, we present evidence from a novel survey we conducted among 2000 students at Peking University. The sharp, staggered introduction of the new curriculum across provinces allows us to identify the effects of the new educational content in a generalized difference in differences framework. We examine government documents articulating desired consequences of the reform, and identify changes in textbook content and college entrance exams that reflect the government's aims. These changes were often effective: study under the new curriculum is robustly associated with changed views on political participation and democracy in China, increased trust in government officials, and a more skeptical view of free markets.
Helpful and much appreciated suggestions, critiques and encouragement were provided by Leonardo Bursztyn, Stefano DellaVigna, Nicola Gennaioli, Paola Giuliano, Torsten Persson, Nancy Qian, Scott Rozelle, Monika Schnitzer, Linxiu Zhang, David Zweig, seminar participants at Bocconi, CREI, IIES, HKUST, UC Berkeley, and Warwick, as well as participants in the NBER Culture and Institutions Program Meeting and the University of Munich Conference on the Long Shadow of History. Michael Anderson very kindly shared with us his code for computing adjusted p-values. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the LMUexcellent Junior Research Fund and from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. Excellent research assistance was provided by Yana Huang, Xuan Wang, and Mark Westcott. The authors thank several Chinese high school teachers and a current Education Ministry official. The authors have no conflict of interest, financial or otherwise, related to this study. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Davide Cantoni & Yuyu Chen & David Y. Yang & Noam Yuchtman & Y. Jane Zhang, 2017. "Curriculum and Ideology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(2), pages 338-392. citation courtesy of