Hostile policies towards higher education are a prominent feature of authoritarian regimes. We study the capture of higher education by the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile following the 1973 coup. We find three main results: (i) cohorts that reached college age shortly after the coup experienced a large drop in college enrollment as a result of the systematic reduction in the number of openings for incoming students decreed by the regime; (ii) these cohorts had worse economic outcomes throughout the life cycle and struggled to climb up the socioeconomic ladder, especially women; (iii) children with parents in the affected cohorts also have a substantially lower probability of college enrollment. These results demonstrate that the political capture of higher education in non-democracies hinders social mobility and leads to a persistent reduction in human capital accumulation, even after democratization.
Year: 2020 HiCN Working Paper No. 329