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Student loans in Japan: Current problems and possible solutions


  • Armstrong, Shiro
  • Dearden, Lorraine
  • Kobayashi, Masayuki
  • Nagase, Nobuko


The Japanese higher education sector has seen increases in tuition with stagnant household incomes in a society where family support for university students has been the norm. Student loans from the government have grown rapidly to sustain the gradual increase in university enrolments. These time-based repayment loans (TBRLs) have created financial hardship for increasing numbers of loan recipients and their families. There is some evidence that prospective students from low-income households are forgoing a university education to avoid student loan debt. The Japanese government has introduced some measures including grants and a partial income-contingent loan (ICL) scheme to help alleviate these problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Armstrong, Shiro & Dearden, Lorraine & Kobayashi, Masayuki & Nagase, Nobuko, 2019. "Student loans in Japan: Current problems and possible solutions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 120-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:71:y:2019:i:c:p:120-134
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.10.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Britton, Jack & van der Erve, Laura & Higgins, Tim, 2019. "Income contingent student loan design: Lessons from around the world," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 65-82.
    2. Higgins, Tim & Sinning, Mathias, 2013. "Modeling income dynamics for public policy design: An application to income contingent student loans," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 273-285.
    3. Barr, Nicholas & Chapman, Bruce & Dearden, Lorraine & Dynarski, Susan, 2019. "The US college loans system: Lessons from Australia and England," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 32-48.
    4. Masaaki KAWAGOE & Yukiko ITO & Masato TAKARA, 2018. "What Do Microsimulations Tell Us about Fiscal Costs of the Newly Launched Income Contingent Loans in Japan?," ESRI Discussion paper series 343, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    5. Nobuko Nagase, 2018. "Has Abe's Womanomics Worked?," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 13(1), pages 68-101, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sano, Shinpei, 2019. "The effect of student loans on college enrollment: Evidence from municipality panel data in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C).
    2. Dearden, Lorraine, 2019. "Evaluating and designing student loan systems: An overview of empirical approaches," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 49-64.

    More about this item


    Student loans; Student loan design; Japan;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity


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