When Does Education Promote Democracy? Evidence from Curriculum Reforms in Mexico, 1960-2010

Agustina Paglayan (UCSD)
Francisco Garfias (UCSD)
Enrique Seira (ITAM)

Abstract : Studies of the impact of education on political participation find mixed results. We ask whether the effect of education on adult political participation depends on the content of the education that we were exposed to. To study this, we begin by using structural topic models and qualitative text analysis tools to identify changes over time and across states in the content of all the primary school textbooks used in Mexico from 1960 onward. This enables us to identify how the emphasis placed on teaching students about democracy changed both over time and across states. We then combine this information about the timing of textbook reforms with individual-level data on political participation drawn from administrative records, and use difference-in-differences to estimate the effect of primary school textbooks on an individual's propensity to vote, their likelihood to voluntarily monitor elections, and other forms of political participation.

Choosing Limited Property Rights: Privatizing Reforms and Collective Land Institutions in Mexico

Emily A. Sellars (Yale University)
María Paula Saffon Sanín (UNAM)

Abstract : Why do limited property rights institutions persist? We examine continuity and change in Mexico’s ejidal land tenure system, a form of social property in which holders receive limited usufruct rights over individual plots and commons are collectively managed. Many scholars have argued that the ejido has hindered economic and political development through institutionalized land fragmentation and the provision of incomplete property rights. However, though the privatization of ejidal land has been legal since 1992, few ejidos have been partially or fully privatized. In fact, there are more ejidos, more ejidatarios, and more land in social property today than before the 1992 Agrarian Reform. We examine the geographic patterns and historical antecedents of today’s ejido to understand the persistence of this institution.