Numerous studies show that education has a positive effect on political participation at the individual level. However, the increase in aggregate levels of education in most Western countries over the last decades has not resulted in a corresponding increase in aggregate levels of political participation. Nie et al. (Education and democratic citizenship in America, 1996) propose the relative education model as a possible solution to this paradox. According to this model, it is not the skills promoted by education that have positive effects on political participation. Rather, education influences individuals’ social status, which in turn influences political participation. The relative education model expects that the individual-level effect of an additional year of education will decrease as the mean level of education in the environment increases. This article evaluates this theory using Swedish election surveys (1985–2006) and it thus provides the first in depth evaluation of the relative education model outside the US. On voting and political participation related to political parties, support is found for the relative education model.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 5, 2010
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