The Political Economy of Educational Content and Development: Lessons from History

46 Pages Posted: 8 May 2013

See all articles by Davide Cantoni

Davide Cantoni

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics

Noam Yuchtman

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: April 30, 2013

Abstract

Beyond years of schooling, educational content can play an important role in the process of economic development. Individuals’ choices of educational content are often shaped by the political economy of government policies that determine the incentives to acquire various skills. We first present a model in which differences in human capital investments emerge as an equilibrium outcome of private decisions and government policy choices. We then illustrate these dynamics in two historical circumstances. In medieval Europe, states and the Church found individuals trained in Roman law valuable, and eventually supported productive investments in this new form of human capital. In late 19th-century China, elites were threatened by the introduction of Western science and engineering and continued to select civil servants — who enjoyed substantial rents — based on their knowledge of the Confucian classics; as a result, investments in productive, modern human capital were not made.

Keywords: educational content, educational institutions, political economy, development

JEL Classification: N300, I250, O110, O430

Suggested Citation

Cantoni, Davide and Yuchtman, Noam, The Political Economy of Educational Content and Development: Lessons from History (April 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2261641 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2261641

Davide Cantoni (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

Noam Yuchtman

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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