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Education and propaganda: Tradeoffs to public education provision in nondemocracies

Patrick A. Testa

Journal of Public Economics, 2018, vol. 160, issue C, 66-81

Abstract: Nondemocratic regimes face a tradeoff when investing in public education. Education promotes human capital acquisition, expanding the tax base. Yet it also enhances political sophistication and participation, at a cost to nondemocratic regimes. To relax this tradeoff, a regime can disseminate propaganda through its education system. I show that even Bayesian citizens can be influenced by propaganda. By deterring political opposition, propaganda can induce nondemocracies to invest in education when they otherwise would not, improving social welfare. When propaganda is too strong, however, it can generate a backlash. Using cross-country and survey data, I find evidence consistent with the predictions.

Keywords: Public education; Propaganda; Political participation; Second-best; Development; Human capital; Social capital; Nondemocracy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I25 H52 O43 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2018.03.001

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