Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Can autocracy promote literacy? evidence from a cultural alignment success story

Author(s): Nuno Pedro G. Palma and Jaime Brown Reis

Publication Date: March 2018

Keyword(s): Anthropometrics, economic history of education, political economy of development and public schooling provison

Programme Area(s): Development Economics and Economic History

Abstract: Do countries with less democratic forms of government have lower literacy rates as a consequence? Using a random sample of 4,600+ individuals from military archives in Portugal, we show that 20-year old males were 50% more likely to end up literate under an authoritarian regime than under a 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 success of the authoritarian regime in promoting basic education.

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Bibliographic Reference

Palma, N and Reis, J. 2018. 'Can autocracy promote literacy? evidence from a cultural alignment success story'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.