The Government’s Educational Goals

Stephen Kosack

in The Education of Nations

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199841653
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949540 | DOI:
The Government’s Educational Goals

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This chapter examines the sort of education that different citizens, families, and employers want and develops a framework for understanding whose demands the government tries to meet. It argues that family demands vary with wealth, and employer demands vary with the scarcity of skilled labor and the supply elasticity of skilled wages. The government tries to meet the demands of families and employers in its “vital constituency”—those whose support it needs. The vital constituency takes one of nine types, depending on labor market conditions and whether the families in it are poor, elite, or a cross-class alliance. Whether poor families are in the vital constituency depends on whether the government is affiliated with a political entrepreneur of the poor. The vital constituency’s type determines the type of education system the government tries to create: bottom-up, town-down, or one that provides all levels, and with broad or selective worker training or no worker training.

Keywords: education; primary education; higher education; worker training; public expenditure; political entrepreneurship; mass mobilization; vital constituency

Chapter.  11979 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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