DP1925 The Evolution of Modern Educational Systems: Technical Vs. General Education, Distributional Conflict and Growth

Author(s): Graziella Bertocchi, Michael Spagat
Publication Date: July 1998
Keyword(s): general education, Growth, Income Distribution, Politics, social status, technical education
JEL(s): D31, J24, O40
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=1925

We study the evolution of an educational system which is founded on a hierarchical differentiation between technical and general education, with a superior social status attached to general. The resulting dynamic political equilibrium is best summarized by the ratio of vocational to general education, which we interpret as a measure of the degree of stratification of the educational system. We show that this ratio first rises and then declines with the level of development, displaying an inverted U-shape which reflects the complex interaction between economic and political forces, including aggregate income growth, wealth inequality and political participation. We predict that developing countries will tend to overinvest in vocational education at the expense of general.