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Empowering knowledge: Political leaders, education, and economic liberalization

Jingheng Li, Tianyang Xi and Yang Yao

European Journal of Political Economy, 2020, vol. 61, issue C

Abstract: Recent literature reports significant effects of political leaders in driving economic policies but does not provide an exhaustive answer as to why. This paper argues that educational background plays an important role in shaping leaders' ideas and beliefs, which in turn matter for policy making in the long run. Using a cross-country data covering 137 countries and regions over 1960–2005, the paper documents a robustly positive relationship between leaders educational attainment and faster liberal reforms, regardless of regime type. The effects are more salient for leaders who majored in economics, social science, and natural science. Moreover, the effects of education seem to be orthogonal to alternative channels such as partisan politics, geopolitical factors, and public opinions.

Keywords: Political leaders; Education; Economic liberalization; Ideas (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2019.101823

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European Journal of Political Economy is currently edited by J. De Haan, A. L. Hillman and H. W. Ursprung

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