This paper aims to investigate the effects of study abroad on the competence acquisition of graduates and their career development after graduation in Japan. This study fills the gap in existing research in the following three aspects: 1) it investigates the effects of study abroad on career as a part of human capital formation with other skills or knowledge at graduation, 2) it includes intrinsic motivation on career, and 3) it targets countries other than North America or European countries. The data used in this study are based on a survey conducted in April and May 2018 at a well-recognized university in Tokyo, Japan. This survey was conducted on graduates, who majored in humanities or social sciences and graduated in 1996 to 2016 with 7 time frames. The number of valid sample is 1271.
The results of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple variance showed that the graduates with long-term study abroad experiences are different from other graduates who have no experience or short-term study abroad experiences when considering their competencies and their careers. Long-term study abroad experience is associated more with the acquisition of subject-specific and international competencies. It was found that people with long-term study abroad experiences have higher annual incomes than those with short-term study experiences. They work in small companies with the same level of wages of non-experienced graduates at the job, take on the role of leaders more, and read more for future careers.
Then structural equation modeling (SEM) was conducted to understand the causal relationship between study abroad and the formation of human capital as an output of university education, and that between the output and career after graduation. The career here consists of four variables: income, leadership, added value to society, and reading habits for future career. The last three items mean that an individual fulfilling or better change in society. The results indicate that the experiences of study abroad have a positive impact on the acquisition of both subject-specific and international competencies, and the human capital accumulated by these competencies has an effect on career formation (four variables). This result is different from that of existing studies that explained the higher wages of students who have studied abroad as being a result of income disparities between countries, or their organizations of employment being multi-national corporations.
The results of the current study show the effects of study abroad on a career in not only extrinsic motivation as income but also on intrinsic motivation such as bringing about social change in a broader sense. The other significance of the study is to show that the effect of study abroad is one of the experiences to form human capital.
This study targets Japan, which has different social contexts to Europe and the United States, but it is not possible to generalize the results of Japan entirely, due to the limitation of the data range. To address this limitation, further information needs to be accumulated by targeting universities with different attributes. Moreover, this study treats the effects of study abroad as a time series equivalent, but the other survey results show that the effect on the job may have decreased in recent years in Japan and Europe; therefore, an analysis based on time series difference is proposed for the future.