Discussion paper

DP12811 Can autocracy promote literacy? evidence from a cultural alignment success story

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.

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Citation

Palma, N and J Reis (eds) (2018), “DP12811 Can autocracy promote literacy? evidence from a cultural alignment success story”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 12811. https://cepr.org/publications/dp12811