Can Autocracy Promote Literacy? Evidence from a Cultural Alignment Success Story

47 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2018 Last revised: 14 May 2021

See all articles by Nuno Pedro G. Palma

Nuno Pedro G. Palma

University of Manchester

Jaime Reis

University of Lisbon - Institute of Social Science

Date Written: March 2018

Abstract

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

Palma, Nuno Pedro G. and Reis, Jaime, Can Autocracy Promote Literacy? Evidence from a Cultural Alignment Success Story (March 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12811, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3149484

Nuno Pedro G. Palma (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Jaime Reis

University of Lisbon - Institute of Social Science ( email )

Av. Professor Anibal Betencourt, 9
Lisboa, 1649-004
Portugal

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