Higher Education Systems and Labour Market Outcomes in Japan and Finland, 1950-2010

Yasushi Tanaka, Toshiaki Tamaki, Anu Ojala, Olli Turunen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In recent decades, both Japan and Finland have drawn international attention to their education systems. Since the 1960s, Japan has been ranked among the top performers in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), while Finland has received international acclaim for her outstanding performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by the OECD, and most recently both countries were ranked high in the OECD Skills Outlook 2013 Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Both Japan and Finland were at the top of OECD countries in adult literacy and numeracy profi ciency scores. There is no doubt that these outcomes are the results of the educational policies of the two countries. In particular, in both countries, belief in high educational standards as well as in the economic and intellectual benefi ts of education is fi rmly entrenched. This produces ready recruits for higher education, but the ways to organize higher education and how the students are catered for are quite different. According to UNESCO’s Global Education Indicators (GEI) 2009, the percentages of enrolment in the private tertiary education sector in 2007 for Japan and Finland were 80 per cent and 11 per cent respectively, so while in Japan educational costs are mostly covered privately, Finnish higher education students receive considerable amounts of public fi nancial support and study in a free, publicly funded system. Related to this issue is that, according to the GEI 2009, the enrolment ratios for tertiary education for Japan and Finland in 2007 were 58 per cent and 94 per cent respectively. They are almost at the bottom and the top of the enrolment rate ranking among the industrialized countries of East Asia, North America, and Western Europe. To explain these differences this chapter discusses the history of education in both countries, educational systems today, and trends in higher education. Furthermore, the chapter considers the costs and benefi ts of higher education in Japan and Finland in order to create a contextual setting for a later comparison of the post-war-era economic returns on higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComparing Post War Japanese and Finnish Economies and Societies : Longitudinal perspectives
EditorsYasushi Tanaka, Toshiaki Tamaki, Jari Ojala, Jari Eloranta
Number of pages29
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-65620-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-74620-3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in the Modern World Economy

Fields of Science

  • 5202 Economic and Social History

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