"Curriculum and National Identity: Evidence from the 1997 Textbook Reform in Taiwan "
Presenter: Wei-Lin Chen, Ph.D Candidate, UC San Diego Department of Economics
Could education content casually affect students’ national identity? We exploit the sharp junior high school textbook reform which introduced large amount of Taiwan-related materials, using regression discontinuity design to tease out the society trend and cohort effect. We find that students exposed to the new textbook are more likely to hold stronger Taiwanese identity. The effect is larger for students who entered academic education track and students endowed with less Taiwan-oriented ideology approximated by the ethnic distribution of the hometown, implying mechanisms of memorizing and socialization with neighborhoods. As the students aged, whether they study the new textbook or not could not predict significant national identity differences. We find that this insignificance emerges from the steeper increasing trend of Taiwanese identity in students not exposed to the new textbook. Whether the steeper increasing trend comes from spillover effect of the new textbook through peer interaction or from the exposure to the also increasing Taiwanese identity trend of the whole society requires further examination.
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