Nation-Building through Compulsory Schooling During the Age of Mass Migration
By the mid-19th century, America was the best educated nation on Earth; financial investments in education were large and the majority of children voluntarily attended public schools. So why did US states start introducing compulsory schooling laws at this point in time? We provide qualitative and quantitative evidence that compulsory schooling laws were used as a nation-building tool to homogenize the values held by the tens of millions culturally diverse migrants who moved to America during the ‘Age of Mass Migration’. Our core finding is that the adoption of compulsory schooling occurs earlier in states that host many migrants unlikely to have strong civic values. By providing micro-foundations for such laws, our study highlights an important link between mass migration and institutional change, where changes are driven by the policy choices of native median-voters in the receiving country rather than migrant settlers themselves.
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 28, 2015