Politics and Local Practice
School finance: funding and regional variations
The distribution of government grants in Sweden, 1865-1900 Johannes Westberg 15 It is a well-known fact that the emerging system of mass education in Swe den and other W estern societies was characterized by significant regional differences. As W. B. Stephens has noted on the history of English literacy, one cannot talk about a national condition before 1870 without distorting reality.1 Consequently, regional and local variations have been examined in a number of studies of the history of literacy and schooling, whereby these were portrayed both as an inevitable consequence of the expansion of schooling, as well as an essential condition for this development.2 An absolutely fundamental assumption in this body of research is that not all school districts were created equal, and that significant differences between rich and poor ones were commonplace during the nineteenth cen tury.3 The study of these regional differences in funding has, however, seldom been pursued further. This chapter addresses this issue through an examina tion of the distribution of central government grants across Sweden’s dioceses, counties and school districts during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Several questions will be answered. Did the densely populated areas benefit from the government grant system, or was it the sparsely populated ones that saw the greatest improvements? W hat impact did the grant reform of 1871 have on the actual grant allocation? Did the regional differences increase or decrease over time? 1 W. B. Stephens, Education, literacy and society, 1830-70: The geography o f diversity in...
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