Can Autocracy Promote Literacy? Evidence from a Cultural Alignment Success Story
47 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2018 Last revised: 14 May 2021
Date Written: March 2018
Do countries with less democratic forms of government necessarily have lower literacy rates as a consequence? Using a random sample of more than 9000 individuals from military archives in 20th century Portugal, we show that 20-year old males were 50% more likely to end up literate under a nondemocratic regime than under a more democratic one. Our results are robust to controlling for a host of factors including economic growth, the disease environment, and regional fixed-effects. We argue for a political economy and cultural explanation for the relative success of the authoritarian regime in promoting basic education.
JEL Classification: H41, I24, I25, N33, N34, O12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation