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State Capacity, Schooling, and Fascist Education: Evidence from the Reclamation of the Pontine Marshes

Alessandro Belmonte ()

CAGE Online Working Paper Series from Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE)

Abstract: States typically leverage on schooling to transmit desired values to the population. However, indoctrination through schooling typically requires teachers, school buildings and other capabilities. This paper documents that a low school capacity hampered the effort of the Italian fascist regime in transmitting a fascist ideology. I use evidence from a natural experiment of history—the reclamation of the Pontine Marshes. I argue that the reclamation acted as a shock in the regime’s school capacity. The design and construction of new rural villages gave the regime the opportunity to build schools on a large scale, improving the regime’s capability in transmitting a fascist ideology. This was hardly the case in the contiguous, pre-existent area, in the same province of Latina, where enrollment rates were low. I use this variation in schooling before WWII in an instrumental variable analysis. It shows that better educated areas in the province were more supporting of a post-fascist party in the elections freely held in 1948. Further analyses indicate that school capacity is a critical extensive margin of pedagogical reforms in shaping people values.

Keywords: state capacity; schooling; education; indoctrination; political values; voting; fascism. JEL Classification: H11; H75; I28; H13; P16; N44 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-ure
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