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DIME Seminar Series: Deliberate Disengagement: How Education Reduces Political Participation under Electoral Authoritarianism
April 21, 2015Speaker: Kevin Croke in MC3-570 at 12:30 - 1:30PM

Deliberate Disengagement: How Education Reduces Political Participation under Electoral Authoritarianism

Abstract: A large literature examining advanced and consolidating democracies suggests that education increases political participation. However, in electoral authoritarian regimes, educated voters may instead deliberately disengage. If education increases critical capacities, political awareness, and support for democracy, educated citizens may believe that participation is futile or legitimates autocrats.  We test this argument in Zimbabwe—a paradigmatic electoral authoritarian regime—by exploiting cross- cohort variation in access to education following a major educational reform. We find that education decreases political participation, substantially reducing the likelihood that better-educated citizens vote, contact politicians, or attend community meetings. Consistent with deliberate disengagement, education’s negative effect on participation dissipated following 2008’s more competitive election, which temporarily) initiated unprecedented power sharing. Supporting the mechanisms underpinning our hypothesis, educated citizens experience better economic outcomes, are more interested in politics and more supportive of democracy, but are also more likely to criticize the government and support opposition parties.

Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) is a global program hosted in the World Bank's Development Research Group. Its purpose is to increase the use of impact evaluation in the design and implementation of public policy and increase institutional capacity and motivation for evidence-based policy. 

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2015

Bio: Kevin Croke is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. He received his PhD from Johns Hopkins-SAIS in 2011. In 2012-2013, he worked at the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab. His research has focused on the politics of health system reform in Tanzania and Uganda, the use of mobile phones for data collection in developing countries, the impact of secondary education expansion in Zimbabwe, and the long run effect of early childhood deworming in Uganda.


Last Updated: Apr 14, 2015

Deliberate Disengagement: How Education Reduces Political Participation under Electoral Authoritarianism