Working Paper No. 1228

“Post-Truth” Schooling and Marketized Education: Explaining the Decline in Sweden’s School Quality

Published: September 10, 2018, revised January 2019Pages: 51Keywords: For-profit schools; Marketized education; School choice; Social constructivism; Voucher systemJEL-codes: H42; H44; H75; I22; I28; L88

“Post-Truth” Schooling and Marketized Education: Explaining the Decline in Sweden’s School Quality Magnus Henrekson and Johan Wennström


The Swedish school system suffers from profound problems with teacher recruitment and retention, knowledge decline, and grade inflation. Absenteeism is high, and psychiatric disorders have risen sharply among Swedish pupils in the last ten years.

In this pioneering analysis of the consequences of combining institutionalized social constructivism with extensive marketization of education, we suggest that these problems regarding school quality are to no small extent a result of the Swedish school system’s unlikely combination of a postmodern view of truth and knowledge, the ensuing pedagogy of child-centered discovery, and market principles.

Our study adds to the findings from previous attempts to study the effects of social-constructivist pedagogy in nonmarket contexts and yields the implication that caution is necessary for countries, notably the U.S., that have a tradition of social-constructivist practices in their education systems and are considering implementing or expanding market-based school reforms.

 

 

Magnus Henrekson

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Ph: +46 (0)8 665 4502
magnus.henrekson@ifn.se

Johan Wennström

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Ph: +46 8 665 4581
johan.wennstrom@ifn.se

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union in a Changing World Order

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This book explores how the European Union responds to the ongoing challenges to the liberal international order. These challenges arise both within the EU itself and beyond its borders, and put into question the values of free trade and liberal democracy. 

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