Persistence of Shadow Education

The Insecurity Factor: Why Shadow Education Remains Strong


This chapter analyzes the Continuity dimension outlined in the Shadow-Education-Inequality-Impact (SEII) Frame, specifically addressing the question whether educational and thus social inequalities in present Japan have increased due to increasing insecurities concerning educational credentials and their returns, which in turn affect families’ educational decision-making processes. Following rational choice and relative risk aversion theories and focusing on the first major transition point in students’ school life course, families’ decisions for high school and shadow education prior to high school transition in the 1990s and 2000s are analyzed particularly emphasizing the role of insecurity for families’ choices. Comparative calculations based on the Hyȏgo High School Students (HHSS) surveys from 1997 and 2011 show the following main findings:
  1. (1)

    Since the 1990s, the likelihood to pursue shadow education prior to high school transition of insecure or high ambitious students from disadvantaged educational strata has generally increased.

  2. (2)

    However, the likelihood of these students to enter top-ranked high schools has actually decreased since the 1990s – in spite of shadow education investments.

  3. (3)

    Additional investments in shadow education have become a must-have for those who try to avoid social downward mobility and therefore hardly serve to achieve a higher social status but rather maintain an accomplished social status. As a result, the latest wave of educational expansion in Japan is gradually coming to a halt. Shadow education has become an institution that regulates access to schools and by this strongly determines access to educational credentials and future social status.



Shadow education Juku Private tutoring Supplementary education Social inequality Educational opportunities Insecurity Non-regular employment Rational choice theory Subjective expected utility theory Relative risk aversion theory SEII frame HHSS 1997 HHSS 2011 Japan 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Education, Social Science Educational ResearchUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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