Gender Equality without Democracy? Higher Education Expansion and Authoritarian Values

Suen Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


How does social policy affect authoritarian values? Leveraging exogenous variation, I evaluate how higher education expansion as a social policy program in China has influenced authoritarian support and traditional gender attitudes. I use an instrumental variable approach and regression analyses with marginal effects to assess multiple waves of Chinese national representative surveys coupled with regional statistics. The study differentiates between two types of authoritarian support: specific support (authoritarian support based on evaluation of recent policies) and diffuse support (long‐term authoritarian traits independent of recent policies). I find that education expansion has significantly decreased specific authoritarian support; however, it has not influenced diffuse authoritarian support. Moreover, a decrease in traditional gender attitudes is driven by a cohort effect rather than an education expansion effect. The findings have broader implications for understanding the effects of social policy on attitudinal change in an authoritarian context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernance: An international journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)259-279
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 15 February 2021.

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