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Is there a premium for elite college education: evidence from a natural experiment in Japan


  • Taejong Kim


In a dramatic move to confront the prolonged and often violent student protests on college campuses, the Japanese government ordered that every student repeat the school year at the University of Tokyo in 1969. The move had the inadvertent effect of denying those graduating from high school in that year an opportunity to seek admission to the nation's foremost institution of higher education. This paper uses the highly unusual event as a natural experiment, and examines whether graduates from the elite Tokyo university receive a preferential treatment in hiring and promotion in the high civil service. As a result of the 1969 incident, the entering class in the high civil service four years later in 1973 included a significantly lower proportion of graduates from the University of Tokyo, the traditionally predominant provider of elite bureaucrats, than in usual years. Comparing the career paths of the entering class of 1973 with those of adjacent cohorts, we do find some evidence that where one went to school may matter in the hiring stage, but no significant evidence for a similar favoritism in promotion in later stages.

Suggested Citation

  • Taejong Kim, 2004. "Is there a premium for elite college education: evidence from a natural experiment in Japan," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 792, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:feam04:792

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-679, June.
    2. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
    3. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1996. "College Choice and Wages: Estimates Using Data on Female Twins," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 672-685, November.
    4. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527.
    5. Eide, Eric & Brewer, Dominic J. & Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 1998. "Does it pay to attend an elite private college? Evidence on the effects of undergraduate college quality on graduate school attendance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 371-376, October.
    6. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
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    More about this item


    human capital; credentialism; college education; natural experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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