DP11621 | Nation Building: The Role of Central Spending in Education

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It is generally argued that, in the context of Imperial Germany, public primary education was used to form “loyal citizens” and to build a nation. In this paper we analyze to what extent central spending on primary education affected participation at general elections and votes for pro-nationalist parties. We combine census data on the sources of school funding with federal election data at the level of 199 constituencies in five-year intervals from 1886 to 1911. Panel estimates of models with constituency and time-fixed effects show that an increase in the share of central spending is positively related to the vote share of pro-nationalist parties and voter turnout. Results from models with lagged central spending by category of expenditure are consistent with the role of indoctrination of public primary education.