Is There a Premium for Elite College Education : Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Japan

Kim, Tae Jong / Okita, Yoichi


In a dramatic move to confront the prolonged and often violent student protests, the Japanese government ordered that every student repeat the school year at the University of Tokyo in 1969. The directive 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 to examine whether graduates from the elite Tokyo university receive a preferential treatment in hiring and promotion in the high civil service. The University of Tokyo traditionally predominates as the chief supplier of elite bureaucrats. As a result of the 1969 incident, however, the entering class in the high civil service four years later in 1973 contained a significantly lower proportion of graduates from the University of Tokyo than in usual years. Comparing the career experiences of the entering class of 1973 with those of adjacent entry 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.

Issue Date
KDI School of Public Policy and Management
human capital; college education; elite college; public sector labor market
Series Title
KDI School Working Paper 04-18
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