Publication Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Universities were first established in Europe around the twelfth century, while primary schools did not appear until the nineteenth. This paper accounts for this phenomenon using a political economy model of educational change on who are educated (the elite or the masses) and what is taught (general or specific/vocational education). A key assumption is that general education is more effective than specific education in enhancing one’s skills in a broad range of tasks, including political rent-seeking. Its findings suggest that specific education for the masses is compatible with the elite rule, while mass general education is not, which refines the conventional association between education and democracy.


General Education, Speci…c Education, Elite Education, Mass Education, Long-Run Development.


Economics | Higher Education

Research Areas

Applied Microeconomics

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.