Curriculum and Ideology by Jane Zhang
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Munich
David Y. Yang
We study the causal effect of school curricula on students’ political attitudes, exploiting a major textbook reform in China between 2004 and 2010. The sharp, staggered introduction of the new curriculum across provinces allows us to identify its causal effects. We examine government documents articulating desired consequences of the reform, and identify changes in textbooks reflecting these aims. A survey we conducted reveals that the reform was often successful in shaping attitudes, while evidence on behavior is mixed. Studying the new curriculum led to more positive views of China’s governance, changed views on democracy, and increased skepticism toward free markets.