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Type Working Paper
Title The effect of education on political engagement in weakly institutionalized countries: evidence from Nigeria
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Page numbers 1-58
Developing countries are currently experiencing unprecedented increases in primary schooling. While education increases civic and political participation in developed democracies, this may not occur in weakly institutionalized countries. Beyond concerns about education’s effectiveness, education could contribute to local political capture
by dominant groups or conflict in divided societies. Leveraging variation across local governments areas and gender in the intensity of Nigeria’s 1976 Universal Primary Education reform—possibly the largest-scale educational expansion in African history—to instrument for primary schooling, we identify large long-run political effects:
up to 33 years after starting primary school, citizens are considerably more interested in politics, more likely to vote and contact local government councilors, participate in community associations, and supportive of democracy in the abstract. Contrary to concerns about potential anti-democratic effects, our results are strongest among minority ethnic and religious groups and in fractionalized areas, and respondents show no increase in support for political violence or own-group identification.

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