Class Origin, Education, and Class Destination: Analyzing the O_E_D Triangle in Japan

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Sho FUJIHARA, University of Tokyo, Japan
Hiroshi ISHIDA, University of Tokyo, Japan
We examine the trends observed in Japan with respect to the three pairs of association involving class origin (O), education (E), and class destination (D), which is the OED triangle. The association between class origin and education refers to educational inequality, and the association between education and class destination pertains to returns to education. The association between origin and destination relates to intergenerational mobility and the openness in class structure. Recent studies on social mobility in some European nations report a trend of the OD association weakening, implying greater social fluidity and openness, and suggest the role of education in increasing social fluidity over time.

To examine the long-term trends in Japan, we use data from the Social Stratification and Social Mobility Surveys (SSM), which are nationally representative surveys that have been conducted every ten years since 1955 in Japan. We restrict our analysis to men between the ages of 30 and 64 because earlier SSM did not include women respondents.

We find that the pairs of associations (OE, ED, and OD) are remarkably stable in post-war Japan. Despite the expansion of the educational system during this period, the extent of inequality of educational opportunities (OE association) remained the same over time, as did the extent of returns to education (ED association). We confirm the earlier finding that Japan does not exhibit any clear trend toward greater openness in the OD association. Furthermore, we find that the OD association does not vary by the level of education in Japan. In contrast to some European nations and the United States where the OD association is weak or absent among the highly educated, class origin continues to affect class destination even among those who attended the institutions of higher education in Japan. We discuss the implications of these empirical findings.