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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Population and Development Review
Title Demography, education, and democracy: Global trends and the case of Iran
Volume 36
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers 253-281
URL http://n.ereserve.fiu.edu/010034724-1.pdf
THE POLITICAL SCIENCE literature has a long tradition of studying the drivers of
improvements in political rights and democracy. The so-called modernization
hypothesis (see Lipset 1959 for the first systematic account of this theory)
considers a country’s level of development, and in particular its educational
attainment, as the main determinant of the emergence and sustainability of
democratic political institutions.
The theoretical arguments relating education to democracy are manifold.
At the individual level, education is a determinant of political participation.
As educational levels increase, individuals tend to develop a stronger sense
of civic duty and a greater interest in politics.1 They are better informed and
more empowered to exert the checks and balances that are necessary for a
modern liberal democracy to function. The relevant arguments relate both
to higher education as a driver of transitions to democracy from a previously
less democratic context and to higher education facilitating the maintenance
of democracy once achieved. Glaeser, Ponzetto, and Shleifer (2007) present
a theoretical model in which the effect of education on the otherwise weak
incentives held by individuals to support democratic regimes leads to higher
stability of democratic regimes in better-educated societies.

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