Training the Nation's Elites: National - Private Sector Differences in Japanese University Education

Hiroshi Ono, Stockholm School of Economics

National universities were originally established in Japan as an institution to educate the nation’s elites and a recruiting ground for government ministries. The prestige hierarchy of national universities was dismantled in the postwar period through the massive expansion of private universities. Do quality differences between national and private universities still persist? Are national university graduates still more likely to represent the nation’s elites? Using a 1995 cross-sectional dataset, we find that national university graduates achieve higher earnings growth and higher rates of return than do private university graduates. Our findings lend support to the ‘elite’ view proposed by Becker (1993), under which higher ability individuals (in this case national university graduates) have more to gain from university education than lower ability individuals.

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Presented in Session 172: Social Stratification and Inequality