The Effect of Education on Society Reconsidered: Positive and Negative Consequences

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Keiko NAKAO , Sociology, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Hacnioji-Shi, Japan
Shigemi OHTSUKI , Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan
Aya WAKITA , Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan
This research investigates both positive and negative effects on society of more people seeking and achieving a higher educational level.  For individuals, the result of greater educational achievement has been well studied and documented.  It is a major route to higher social status.  For a society, however, it may not be universally positive.   The economy may benefit, as there would be a greater number of capable individuals available to assume highly skilled jobs such as those in high-tech industries.  Greater innovation might be a result, also.   But as the number of highly educated individuals increases, the competition within the job market at the higher levels will grow as well.  Furthermore, as individuals reach higher educational goals, they will become reluctant to work at a lower tech or lower paying job.  What will eventuate, particularly in a poor economy when the number of jobs would be reduced?  Is competition always a positive dynamic?

Motivated by such questions, we began to look into unintended negative consequences on society of having more people pursue a higher education in the context of a poor economy.  We need to consider a country’s industrial structure, using data at the macro as well as micro levels.  Also, we need to look at the effect on different age groups.  Additionally, we will need repeated data.

  We started analyzing the data using the Japanese General Social Surveys and observe some negative effects on society.  We will present these and discuss additional results obtained.  Further, we will compare Japan and Taiwan to consider how each country attempts to address this issue.  Taiwan and Japan share many social dynamics such as the importance of education for social mobility.  Yet, they differ in industrial structure, which in turn affects individual job-seeking behavior.  Thus, it will be a meaningful comparison.