London School of Economics Centre for the Economics of Education LSE
Centre for the Economics of Education  (CEE)

Abstract for:

The Convergence of Compulsory Schooling in Western Europe: 1950-2000

Fabrice  Murtin,  Martina  Viarengo,  November 2008
Paper No' CEEDP0095: | Full paper (pdf)
Save Reference as: BibTeX BibTeX File | Endote EndNote Import File
Keywords: Economic history; education, convergence, globalization

JEL Classification: H4; I2; N3; N4

Is hard copy/paper copy available? YES - Paper Copy Still In Print.
This Paper is published under the following series: CEE Discussion Papers
Share this page: Google Bookmarks Google Bookmarks | Facebook Facebook | Twitter Twitter


This paper examines the expansion of compulsory schooling in fifteen Western European countries over the period 1950-2000. We show that a convergence process of mandatory years of schooling has occurred across these countries since 1950. We argue that the major driver of this phenomenon is the existence of decreasing aggregate returns to education that have limited the extension of compulsory schooling. Then we test whether convergence still holds when confronted with other explanations described in the literature, which are respectively based on technology and trade, institutions, and the budget constraint of governments. Conditional convergence does hold and we find that openness has been another robust determinant of compulsory years of schooling, reflecting the need of education in an increasingly globalized world.