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Higher Education and Social Cohesion in Russia

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					            Education and Social Cohesion in Russia. An Empirical Evidence.
                                                                        Timur Natkhov
                                          State University Higher School of Economics

      The effects of education extend beyond the economic sphere. In this study, we
explore education externalities on various measures of social capital in Russia. To what
extent education can enhance social cohesion? Is the relationship causal and what are
the possible mechanisms of that influence?
      These questions are of especial interest in Russia’s case, because of relatively high
level of education and relatively low level of social capital. To understand this puzzling
relationship we: 1) consider different components of social capital (trust, integrity,
organizational participation, volunteer work) and 2) distinguish different effects of
education (absolute, relative, cumulative). These effects of education known as ARC
model help to recognize the way education generates social outcomes.
      We use Georating Survey conducted by Public Opinion Fund in Moscow. It covers
34 thousand respondents in 68 regions. The results suggest that educational attainment
has large and statistically significant effects on social capital. There is some evidence
that this effect is causal. However, it will be wrong to imply that more years in education
automatically mean higher level of social capital. The relation is more complex. For
example, more competitive forms of activity, such as organizational membership, do not
depend on average level of education in the region. A possible explanation is that
individuals consider such activities as a zero-sum game where some groups benefit
while others lose. Interpersonal trust influenced by strong cumulative effect – average
level of education means more than an individual’s one.
      We also test marginal impact of education by splitting the sample at the median
level of respondent’s education. The impact of average level of education in community
is much stronger among less educated people. Opposite, individuals with higher levels
of education tend to trust and participate in civic activities regardless to their
educational environment. Our explanation hypothesis is that education improves social
environment by increasing cognitive abilities and learning social skills during the study.

				
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