Education and the Quality of Government

Published in 2012

NBER Working Paper No. 18119

Generally speaking, better educated countries have better governments, an empirical regularity that holds in both dictatorships and democracies. We suggest that a possible reason for this fact is that educated people are more likely to complain about misconduct by government officials, so that, even when each complaint is unlikely to succeed, more frequent complaints encourage better behavior from officials. Newly assembled individual-level survey data from the World Justice Project show that, within countries, better educated people are more likely to report official misconduct. The results are confirmed using other survey data on reporting crime and corruption. Citizen complaints might thus be an operative mechanism that explains the link between education and the quality of government.

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Authors

Juan Carlos Botero, Alejandro Ponce, and Andrei Shleifer.

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