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The Advance Of Mass Education: Quantity Or Quality?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyses the spread of mass education in Latin America from 1870 onwards, adopting a global comparative perspective. It pays specific attention to the timing and pace of primary school enrolment expansion. The chapter argues, among other things, that Latin American countries (LACs) were collectively lagging behind in terms of the spread of mass education in the late 19th century. It first briefly discusses the relationship between land inequality and investment in public education and reviews the extent of educational underdevelopment in the late 19th century. Next, it pictures the long run perspective and discusses the diffusion of mass primary schooling using gross enrolment rates for the period 1870-2000. The chapter then describes the distribution of attainment in the post-war era and measures the comparative extent of educational inequality in LACs. Finally, it discusses the quantity-quality trade-off adopting a grade enrolment distribution approach.

Keywords: 19th century; educational inequality; land inequality; Latin America; mass education; post-war era; primary school enrolment expansion; quantity-quality trade-off



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