Impact of Stay Abroad on Language Skill Development: Regression discontinuity evidence from Japanese university students

Author Name HIGUCHI Yuki (Sophia University) / NAKAMURO Makiko (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / Carsten ROEVER (University of Melbourne) / SASAKI Miyuki (Waseda University) / YASHIMA Tomoko (Kansai University)
Creation Date/NO. September 2022 22-E-085
Research Project Establishing Evidence-Based Policy Making in Japan
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The importance of English communication skills has been increasing with globalization, and the governments various countries have encouraged students to go abroad. However, the causal impact of staying abroad has been little investigated, particularly in non-European countries. This study adopts a regression discontinuity design to the Japanese government’s flagship scholarship program for youths’ studying abroad. We found that the scholarships significantly increased the probability of studying abroad by 40 points. By comparing the students placed close to the cutoff, we found that the scholarship increased English proficiency by 12% (or 0.42 standard deviation), measured by a multiple-choice test we originally developed. We also found that the scholarship significantly improved their international posture scores and the perceived communication competence in a foreign language, which are the two traits found as important determinants of future development in language ability in applied linguistics literature.

Published: Higuchi, Yuki, Makiko Nakamuro, Carsten Roever, Miyuki Sasaki, and Tomoko Yashima, 2023. "Impact of studying abroad on language skill development: Regression discontinuity evidence from Japanese university students," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Volume 70 (2023).