Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 333–363 | Cite as

Democracy, education and the quality of government

  • Piergiuseppe Fortunato
  • Ugo PanizzaEmail author


This paper looks at how the interaction between democracy and education affects the quality of government. Using various cross-sectional and dynamic panel data specifications, we show that the success of democratic institutions is closely related to the educational attainment of the population. Democratic elections do not foster the quality of government in countries with low average levels of education. Education, in turn, has a positive effect on the quality of government only in consolidated democracies.


Education Democracy Quality of government Corruption Elections Institutions 

JEL Classification

D72 D73 H11 O43 



We would like to thank without implications Oded Galor (the editor), five anonymous referees, Graziella Bertocchi, Ennio Bilancini, Alberto Chong, Aart Kraay, Florencio López de Silanes, Torsten Persson, Giacomo Ponzetto, Prakash Singh and seminar participants at Universidad de Navarra, Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza,” Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Université de Neuchâtel, and the Hotelling seminar (ADIS – ENS CACHAN) for useful comments and suggestions. We would also like to thank Matteo Bobba and Decio Coviello for sharing their code for the incremental OID test. The views expressed in this paper are the authors’ only and need not reflect, and should not be represented as, the views of any of the institutions that the authors are affiliated with.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)GenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Université de NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of International EconomicsThe Graduate Institute of International and Development StudiesGeneve 21Switzerland
  4. 4.Centre for Economic Policy ResearchLondonUK

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