Class Origin, Class Destination and Education in Japan: The Role of Education in Intergenerational Mobility



This presentation examines the relationship among class origin (O), class destination (D), and education (E) in post-war Japan. First, it focuses on the trends in the intergenerational mobility (relationship between class origin and class destination). There is no clear tendency towards greater openness nor is there an increase in intergenerational rigidity in post-war Japan. Second, the presentation highlights the role of education in mediating the association between class origin and destination and examines the association between class origin and education (OE) and between education and class destination (ED). The trends in the OE and ED associations are stable in post-war Japan. Finally, the presentation focuses on the modifying role of education and examines “college as the great equalizer hypothesis” which claims that the OD association is weaker or non-significant among the college-educated than those with less education. In Japan, the equalizing effect of college education is not apparent because of the specific institutional arrangements of the educational system and the labor market in society.


Hiroshi Ishida is University Professor at the University of Tokyo. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University and held academic appointments at Columbia University and the University of Michigan. He served as the Director of the Institute of Social Science and the Director of the Center of Social Research and Data Archives at the University of Tokyo. Ishida’s research interests include comparative social stratification and mobility, school-to-work transition, family formation, and social inequality over the life course. He is the author of Social Mobility in Contemporary Japan (Macmillan and Stanford University Press) and the co-editor of Social Class in Contemporary Japan (Routledge). He was the editor-in-chief of Social Science Japan Journal published by Oxford University Press, and he currently directs the Japanese Life Course Panel Surveys.

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