Local Elites, Land Inequality, and Nation-building through Public Education


[Joint work with Tugba Bozcaga, Harvard University)

Abstract: States used education as a tool to create loyal citizens. Just as national education was in favor of states and nation-making, it was a threat to local elites’ authority. This paper theorizes that attendance in primary schools is lower in places with high land inequality, as stronger local elites discourage primary school attendance by sanctioning the community through their economic power. We test this argument combining village-level archival data from the early Turkish Republican Era and geospatial data, with a particular focus on the Kurdish region, where the feudal-landlord system was prevalent.