We investigate how the link between individual schooling and political participation is affected by country characteristics. Using individual survey data, we find that political participation is more responsive to schooling in land-abundant countries, and less responsive in human capital-abundant countries, even while controlling for country political institutions and cultural attitudes. We propose an explanation that centers on how individuals allocate the use of their human capital. A relative abundance of land (used primarily in the least skill-intensive sector) or a scarcity of aggregate human capital increases both the level of political participation and its responsiveness to schooling, by lowering the opportunity cost of production income foregone. We find related evidence that political participation is less responsive to schooling in countries with a higher skill premium, as well as within countries for individuals engaged in skilled occupations, suggesting that these patterns are indeed influenced by the opportunity cost of engaging in political rather than production activities. We argue that this framework can provide a joint explanation for patterns of political participation at the individual level and differences in public investment in education at the country level.
Campante, Filipe R., and Davin Chor. "Schooling, Political Participation, and the Economy." Review of Economics and Statistics 94.4 (November 2012): 841-859.