Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar
Kjell G. Salvanes

The Making of Social Democracy: The Economic and Electoral Consequences of Norway’s 1936 School Reform

Kjell G. Salvanes, Professor at the Norwegian School of Economics
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Webinar streamed via Zoom

The Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar is the Economics department's weekly seminar, featuring external speakers in all areas of economics.

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As part of the Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar series, the International Economics Department at the Graduate Institute is pleased to invite you to a public talk given by Kjell G. Salvanes, Professor of Economics at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).

He will present his research work The Making of Social Democracy: The Economic and Electoral Consequences of Norway’s 1936 School Reform, coauthored with Daron Acemoglu (MIT), Tuomas Pekkarinen (VATT) and Matti Sarvimäki (Aalto University).

Abstract: Social democratic governments have profoundly shaped the Nordic countries gradual reforms in education, health care, redistribution, social insurance, labor market institutions over the 20th century. As an early stage of the building of welfare state institutions before the WWII, the Social Democratic governments used human capital policies as a building block to enable further redistributive reforms and to foster support for the reform agenda. The research question we ask in this paper is how the primary school reform in 1936 - first major reform undertaken by the Social Demographic government in Norway after coming into power – affected the electoral support for the program and shaped the income distribution and equality of opportunity. The reform extended the number of hours taught in school and was rolled out over more than a decade. What made it possible to carry out these reforms? We find the reform strongly affected income and post-mandatory education and had spillover effect on the next generation including an increase in cognitive ability. Importantly, the reform also had strong electoral consequences by strongly increasing the social demographic vote share in the next generations in affected municipality.

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Professor Salvanes is a Research Director at the Center for Empirical Labor Economics (CELE) in the Norwegian School of Economics. Since 2017, he is the Deputy Director of the Centre of Excellence FAIR (Centre for Experimental Research on Fairness, Inequality and Rationality). His main research interest is to analyse the drivers of economic inequality and the persistence of inequality across generations.