Panel Paper: Skeptical Democrats? the Long-Run Effects of Education for All Policies on Political Behavior in India

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Madison A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Emmerich Davies, Harvard University

That more educated citizens participate more in the political process is one of strongest findings in political science. However, these findings emerge largely out of advanced Western democracies and they remain untested in the Global South, with uncertain mechanisms in poorer democracies. In this paper, I leverage the assignment rules for the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), a large education policy implemented by the Government of India and various state-level governments with World Bank funding in 1994 that universalized primary education, to estimate the impact of increased schooling on political attitudes and behaviors. I combine micro-level household data from the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS), and the Census of India with administrative data on the implementation of DPEP and find that on average the program induced individuals to stay in school for one additional year, and an 18 percent higher level of English proficiency. This increased human capital, however, results in political disengagement. I find that individuals that attained higher levels of schooling as a result of the program are less likely to participate politically and less trusting of public and private institutions. Analysis of causal pathways suggest that the more educated are in less precarious and more long-term employment and are more likely to live in cities. Findings suggest we should be careful in transporting results from advanced democracies to the Global South as well as exploring how greater education affects political participation.