Abstract

Research has found that education is associated with more liberal opinions on a number of issues, but there is uncertainty about the scope and interpretation of these findings. This study investigates the effects of education using data from the 1990 World Values Survey, which includes 40 nations and covers a wide range of opinions. Multi‐level models are used to allow for national variation in the effects of education, including interactions with economic development and Communist rule. Education influences most political opinions; the effects can be summarized by saying that it promotes individualist values. Education is associated with somewhat lower confidence in most institutions. The relationship between education and confidence becomes weaker with economic development, while the effects of education on a number of political views shift to the left with economic development. The results suggest that education deserves more attention in explanations of national differences and historical trends in opinion.

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