Schooling, Nation Building and Industrialization

Authors: Esther Hauk and Javier Ortega

Journal of Theoretical Politics, Vol. 33, No 1, 56-94, January, 2021

We consider a Gellnerian model to study the transformation of a two-region state into a nation state. Industrialization requires the elites to finance schooling. The implementation of statewide education generates a common national identity, which enables cross-regional production, while regional education does not. We show that statewide education is chosen when cross-regional production opportunities and productivity are high, especially when the same elite holds power at both geographical levels. By contrast, a dominant regional elite might prefer regional schooling, even at the loss of large cross-regional production opportunities if it is statewide dominated. The model is consistent with evidence for five European countries in 1860–1920.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 825