Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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Department of Economic History, Lund University Lund Papers in Economic History, Department of Economic History, Lund University

No 149:
Elites and the Expansion of Education in 19th-century Sweden

Jens Andersson () and Thor Berger ()

Abstract: Did economic and political inequality hamper the spread of mass schooling in the 19th century? This paper analyzes the link between investments in primary schooling and the spread of voting rights in 19th-century Sweden using newly collected data on educational expenditure and the distribution of voting rights in local governments. We find that municipalities governed by local elites spent substantially more on primary schooling relative to those that were more egalitarian. This empirical result is robust to using matching estimators, comparing municipalities located within the same county or district, and using differences in agricultural suitability as an instrument for the presence of local landed elites. Broadly, these findings suggest that elites were historically not always a barrier to the diffusion of elementary education and further our understanding of how Sweden managed to maintain a high level of human capital despite its low level of economic development and restricted franchise in the 19th century.

Keywords: Democratization; elites; human capital development; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: I21; I24; N33; (follow links to similar papers)

32 pages, October 7, 2016

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