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Research projects

How did education policy shape the race towards mass education? A comparative perspective based on France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, c. 1840-1940

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress 2017 - 2021


Johannes Westberg

International differences in school systems and pupils’ performances are an issue that is discussed intensively, both in Sweden and elsewhere. This project builds upon the historical and economic-historical research that has examined how and why such differences arose in school systems during the 1800s and early 1900s. Through a combination of international comparative econometric studies and local case studies we will explore the mechanisms that stimulated or hindered the expansion of mass schooling, c. 1840-1940. The econometric study will examine national and regional variations in France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, and analyse how these can be explained by factors such as school reforms, fiscal capacity, inequality and political voice. The case studies, which are mainly devoted to the development of schooling in three Swedish counties, will explore the cultural context behind the correlations and causal relations that the international study identifies. In a research field where research is mostly country specific and qualitative and quantitative analyses seldom communicate, our multifaceted approach constitutes an important step forward, and a remarkable novelty that will be able to provide conclusive contributions to the study of the international development of schooling and its social, economic and cultural conditions.


Research funding bodies

  • Swedish Research Council


  • Gabriele Cappelli, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Mårten Viberg, Örebro universitet
  • Sara Pecchioli, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona