The Two Roots of Mass Education

Stephen Kosack

in The Education of Nations

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199841653
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949540 | DOI:
The Two Roots of Mass Education

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This chapter argues that social scientists have not developed an understanding of when or why governments decide to invest in mass education. The three most common political-economic explanations—that education policy varies with regime type, with culture, or with the government’s commitment to economic performance—each fail to predict the reality of education policymaking. The chapter argues instead that two factors predict investments in mass education: political entrepreneurship of the poor; and an economy where skilled labor is scarce, skilled wages are flexible, and employers are cannot hire foreign skilled workers. The remainder of the chapter defends the book’s empirical strategy: Taiwan, Ghana, and Brazil are selected to test the framework because they have little in common and vary on dimensions—regime type, culture, and success in economic development—which allows testing of the accuracy of the book’s framework relative to common alternate explanations.

Keywords: education; primary education; higher education; economic development; developing countries; public expenditure; political entrepreneurship; mass mobilization; regime type; democracy

Chapter.  7732 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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