Poster Paper: The Heterogenous Impact of College Education on Happiness By Gender

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Haeil Jung, Korea University and Jung-ah Gil, Seoul National University

Many studies of human capital theory seem to imply that college education leads to happier individuals but there have been few studies that directly examines this research question. Also, considering the different life paths after education of men and women, it is important to study the different impact of college education on happiness by gender. To estimate the unbiased impact of college education on happiness, we take advantage of a natural experiment in South Korea, known as the graduation quota program which massively expanded the opportunities to attend college in early 1980s in South Korea. This abrupt and exogenous policy change was mandated and enforced by a military regime that seized the power in a 1979 military coup in South Korea. Due to this policy change, all public and private colleges were required to expand their college admission quotas by thirty percent in 1981 and fifty percent in 1982. Using whether the birth cohorts were exposed to the graduation quota program as an instrumental variable (IV), this study implements the IV analysis to identify the longer-term effects of college education on happiness by gender. The estimated local average treatment effect by the IV analysis indicates that men who were induced to attend to college by the expanded graduation quota program became happier. However, college education did not raise women’s happiness among women who were induced to attend college by the policy change. We discuss the possible explanations related to the different impact of college education on the happiness of men and women.