Study: Better-educated citizens improve government by complaining more

June 4, 2012

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a dictatorship or a democracy: better-educated citizens tend to have a better government, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Protesters gather at Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

As education levels in a country rise, so do complaints when officials misbehave, raising the expected costs of misconduct and thus encouraging officials to follow the rules — to ask for fewer bribes, to avoid abusing people, to show up to work. Newly assembled individual-level survey data from the World Justice Project show that, within countries, better educated people are more likely to report official misconduct...Citizen complaints might thus be an operative mechanism that explains the link between education and the quality of government.

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