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