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This paper examines the relationship between the coming of the railroads, the expansion of primary education, and the introduction of national school curricula. Using fine-grained data on local education outcomes in Sweden in the nineteenth century, the paper tests the idea that the development of the railroad network enabled national school inspectors to monitor remote schools more effectively. In localities to which school inspectors could travel by rail, a larger share of children attended permanent public schools and took classes in nation-building subjects such as geography and history. By contrast, the parochial interests of local and religious authorities continued to dominate in remote areas school inspectors could not reach by train. The paper argues for a causal interpretation of these findings, which are robust for the share of children in permanent schools and suggestive for the content of the curriculum. The paper therefore concludes that the railroad, the defining innovation of the First Industrial Revolution, mattered directly for the state's ability to implement public policies.
This chapter ties together the findings from the previous substantive chapters, uses statistical techniques to unearth common patterns, and explores what the origins and governance of public services in the nineteenth century tell us about today’s welfare state.
This is the main theory chapter. It develops a new typology of public service reforms: vertical dimension of centralization and horizontal dimension of public versus mixed governance. The chapter analyzes the preferences of different political parties and the Church, and it sets out the methodology and chapter structure.