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CEU Economic Seminar Series: Long-Run Consequences of Propaganda in the Classroom

CESS Merilainen
Tuesday, February 20, 2024, 11:15 am – 12:30 pm

joint work with Matti Mitrunen


This study investigates the persistent economic impact of exposure to Marxist propaganda during childhood. Specifically, we explore the effects of a rogue educational experiment that exposed fifth graders in the Finnish municipality of Pirkkala to a history and social studies curriculum heavily influenced by Soviet and Marxist teachings between 1973-1975. Using comprehensive register data to track individuals over time and employing a generalized difference-in-difference approach, we demonstrate that those exposed to the propaganda as children had significantly lower incomes in adulthood compared to their non-exposed peers. We show that this effect partly stems from the exposed choosing ideologically more left-leaning occupations with lower wages. Additionally, we find substantial adverse effects of the propaganda on labor market participation, while finding no meaningful impact on further education. Our findings highlight the potential long-lasting consequences of early exposure to propaganda in classrooms on an individual's economic outcomes and later behavior.