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Nation-building through compulsory schooling during the age of mass migration

Bandiera, Oriana, Mohnen, Myra, Rasul, Imran and Viarengo, Martina (2018) Nation-building through compulsory schooling during the age of mass migration. The Economic Journal. ISSN 0013-0133

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ecoj.12624


By the mid-19th century, America was the most educated nation on Earth: signifcant …nancial investments in education were being undertaken and the majority of children voluntarily attended public schools. So why did states across America start introducing compulsory schooling laws at this time in history? We provide qualitative and quantitative evidence that states adopted compulsory schooling laws as a nation-building tool to instill civic values to the tens of millions of culturally diverse migrants who arrived during the ‘Age of Mass Migration’ between 1850 and 1914. We show the adoption of state level compulsory schooling laws occurred signifcantly earlier in states that hosted a subgroup of European migrants with lower exposure to civic values in their home countries. We then use cross-county data to show the same subgroup of European migrants had signi…cantly lower demand for American common schooling pre-compulsion, and so would have been less exposed to the kinds of civic value or discipline instilled by the American education system had compulsory schooling not been passed. By studying the link between mass migration and the endogenous policy responses of American-born voters in receiving states, our analysis provides new micro-foundations for compulsory schooling laws, the legislative bedrock on which all future developments of the American schooling system were built

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Authors
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
L Education > L Education (General)
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 08:44
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 05:27
Projects: RES-544-28-5001, GA313234
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, European Research Council

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