Research / BFI Working PaperSep 11, 2023

Dictatorship, Higher Education and Social Mobility

Maria Angélica Bautista, Felipe González, Luis Martínez, Pablo Muñoz, Mounu Prem

We study the effect of political regime change on higher education and its distributional consequences. We focus on Chile’s military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet, a regime characterized by a conservative ideology, severe repression, and a technocratic approach to policy- making. After coming to power through a coup in 1973, the Pinochet regime steadily reduced government funding for higher education, which led to fewer openings for new college students and lower tertiary enrollment. These cuts disproportionately affected college applicants from less affluent backgrounds. Exploiting the greater exposure to the contraction of higher education experienced by birth cohorts that reached college age shortly after the 1973 coup, we show that those affected had lower college enrollment, worse labor market outcomes, and struggled to climb up the socioeconomic ladder. These findings suggest that the contraction of higher education hindered social mobility and plausibly contributed to the increase in inequality observed under Pinochet.

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BFI Working Paper Sep 11, 2023

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