Assistant Professor

University of California, San Diego

Dept. of Political Science &

Global School of Policy and Strategy 

twitter: @aspaglayan

I study what motivates politicians to expand access to education and improve the quality and equity of education systems, in developing countries and developed countries (including the U.S.). I use original datasets spanning long periods of time to understand why some governments today provide more and/or better education than others. I draw on insights from comparative political economy, development economics, economics of education, political and economic history.


I received my PhD in political science from Stanford University, an MA in education policy (Stanford), a Master of Public Policy (Georgetown University) and Licenciatura en Economia (Universidad de San Andres, Argentina).

The Dark Side of Education. Book project based on part of my dissertation, Political Origins of Public Education Systems. In it I argue that the primary goal underlying the emergence and initial expansion of public primary education systems was to promote social order and political stability, not human capital accumulation or economic development. 

Civil War, State Consolidation, and the Spread of Mass Education (pdf)

- APSA 2018 Fiona McGillivray Award for the best Political Economy paper

Historical Political Economy of Skills Formation: Evidence from 100 Years of Curriculum Policy Choices in Argentina and Chile (with Jennifer Guevara and Camila Pérez Navarro) (pdf)

Is Universal Preschool More Resilient to Budget Cuts than Targeted? Evidence from the Great Recession (with Erica Greenberg) (pdf)

Durable Goods for Enduring Voters? Evidence from a School Construction Program in Argentina (pdf)

Teacher Unions and Education Reform in Argentina (pdf)

When Does Education Promote Democracy? Evidence from Curriculum Reforms in Mexico (with Francisco Garfias and Enrique Seira)in progress

Political Determinants of Education Quality (based on the  Historical Education Quality Database)in progress