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

Publication Date


JEL Code(s)


Programme Area(s)



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.