DOI: 10.5176/2251-2403_PSSIR16.40

Authors: Dr. Ingrid Grosse


Education has been shown to alter values and attitudes in Western European and American countries. In tendency, the higher the level of education of respondents is, the more liberal are their values concerning civil rights, civil liberties, moral issues and political liberties. Vice versa, the lower the level of education of respondents is the more authoritarian their values are.

Concerning Asian Confucian countries, however, the influence of education on values has only partly been investigated in, i.e. with an emphasis on values concerning political liberties. This paper focuses instead on values concerning questions of civil rights, civil liberties and moral issues. The leading question is, if education matters also in East Asian, Confucian contexts, such as Vietnam, China, Taiwan and Japan.

It is not prima facie obvious, that education matters also in a non-Western cultural context. Western social theories, e.g. modernization theories, have not always worked in the same way in other cultural contexts, but were changed within specific cultural contexts. In addition, Asian Confucian countries are often reported to be “exceptional” and to differ from Western countries, e.g. concerning social networks, family patterns, and gender issues.

However, there are also reasons to expect that education matters in the same way in Asian Confucian countries. For example, the thesis of Asian Confucian exceptionalism is questioned: political values are not always reported to be more authoritarian in Asian Confucian countries than in Western countries. In addition, Asian Confucian countries are reported to change values and life patterns, making them more similar to Western countries.

Thus, it remains an open question, if and how education matters in an Asian Confucian context. This paper investigates into the question with data from the World Values Surveys. Results show that higher educated tend to be more liberal than less educated in Asian countries like in Western countries. Broadly speaking, the idea that education matters seems to be applicable also in Asian Confucian social contexts.

Keywords: education, authoritarianism, values, Asia, Confucian

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