Research Publications

Knowledge Economy | Education Reform | Emirati | United Arab Emirates | UAE

Building Citizens for the Arab Knowledge Economy: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates

Calvert W. Jones
July 01, 2012

This working paper presents the results of an intensive case study of education reform to support the development of a post-petroleum, knowledge-based economy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The case study is part of a larger research project exploring the ways in which state leaders may cultivate engaged citizens who are willing and able to contribute to the development of their countries, particularly in the contemporary era of heightened globalization and intense economic competition. Building on existing theory and empirical work, the case study identifies and measures attitudes that are believed to facilitate knowledge-intensive growth within one country, such as achievement motivation, risk-taking propensity, civic duty, willingness to invest in a promising business idea, trust, and social capital. For both policy makers and researchers, the case study offers a rich portrait of one strategy that state leaders may use to help foster knowledge-intensive economic development. 

The case study uses a quasi-experimental research methodology that compares UAE students’ attitudes in a new type of school (“treatment” schools) with UAE students’ attitudes at regular government schools (“control” schools). The new type of school has been developed as part of the country’s larger movement of education reform to support a post-petroleum, knowledge-based economy. The working paper presents findings on the major differences between students’ attitudes at the two types of schools and uses a difference-in-differences (DD) approach to estimate the causal effect of the treatment schools on students’ attitudes in these areas.

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