Schooling, Political Participation, and the Economy

Filipe R. Campante, Davin Chor
2012 Review of Economics and Statistics  
We investigate how the link between individual schooling and political participation is affected by country characteristics. Using individual survey data, we find that political participation is more responsive to schooling in land-abundant countries, and less responsive in human capital-abundant countries, even while controlling for country political institutions and cultural attitudes. We also find related evidence that political participation is less responsive to schooling in countries with
more » ... a higher skill premium, suggesting that these patterns are influenced by the opportunity cost of engaging in political rather than production activities. We therefore propose an explanation that centers on an allocation decision that individuals face over the use of their human capital. In our model, a relative abundance of land (used primarily in the least skill-intensive sector) or a scarcity of aggregate human capital increases both the level of political participation and its responsiveness to schooling. We show in an extension how this framework can provide a joint explanation for patterns of political participation at the individual level and differences in public investment in education at the country level.
doi:10.1162/rest_a_00206 fatcat:m5o7lm77ubf33bahwcfl736gby