Some time ago I became interested in this question too. More broadly, I was also interested in whether high school kids are less educated now than they used to be.

But this turns out to be an almost impossible question to answer. Oh, you can answer it pretty well if you only go back to 1992,¹ but I wanted to go back farther. At least to the 1950s, and ideally back to the turn of the 20th century.

There’s some suggestive evidence going back that far, but it’s really hard to find anything definitive. Eventually my interest flagged and I moved on to other things. But I did find one interesting little nugget that’s been sitting on my computer for a while, and I suppose this is a good time to share it. It’s a comparison of basic political knowledge based on a 1989 survey that asked