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What Determines The Long-Run Persistence of the Empires? The Effect of the Partition of Poland on Education

Pawel Bukowski

No 2015_3, CEU Working Papers from Department of Economics, Central European University

Abstract: This paper estimates the long-lasting effects of institutions imposed by the three Empires: Austro-Hungary, Prussia and Russia during the Partition of Poland on the performance of Polish students. Using the two-dimensional geographical Regression Discontinuity Design I show that the Habsburg Empire had a long-lasting positive effect on the performance of students compared to the Russian Empire. The magnitude of the effect is similar to the performance gap between white and black students in the US. At the same time however, there is no difference between the Prussian and Russian Empires. I argue that the main channels of influence are the role of ethnic tolerance and the political purpose of education. The Austrian and Prussian educational systems were very similar as the former was practically copied from the latter. However, the attitudes toward the Polish population and the role of education in this respect widely differed. While in the Prussian Empire education was the main tool of Germanization, in the Habsburg Empire it was seen as a tool to spread modern national identities. The alternative explanations are also discussed. These include migration-based self selection of people, urbanization patterns and other features of the Austrian and Prussian education systems.

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Date: 2015-03-09
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