Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Agustina Paglayan has always been drawn to the question of why some politicians but not others have incentives to adopt public policies conducive to economic development. She is particularly interested in the political incentives underlying education policy decisions, given the central importance of education for development. She holds degrees in economics, public policy, and education, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies in political science at Stanford University. Paglayan has worked on a range of public policy issues, from macroeconomic to labor to education policy; in organizations varying from small think tanks to large international organizations; and in several countries. Her most recent position prior to moving to Stanford was at the World Bank, where she conducted comparative research on teacher policies, school inspectorates, and the politics of education reform.
Why do some governments invest more in human capital than others? I develop a political economy theory of human capital that departs from existing theories by acknowledging, first, that governments influence human capital through decisions affecting both the quantity and the quality of education provision, and second, that educational quantity and quality need not go hand in hand. To explain why different governments choose different combinations of education quantity and quality, I employ a comparative historical approach that exploits variation in the patterns of education provision both across countries and within countries over time. I begin with the construction of an original historical database that enables me to identify when the patterns of education provision that we observe today emerged. I then test—through econometric analyses and carefully chosen comparative case studies—alternative theories of why these patterns emerged.