The Value of U.S. College Education in Global Labor Markets: Experimental Evidence from China

Last registered on March 28, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Value of U.S. College Education in Global Labor Markets: Experimental Evidence from China
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004037
Initial registration date
March 21, 2019
Last updated
March 28, 2019, 6:50 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Princeton University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2017-06-30
End date
2018-05-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
One million international students study in the U.S. each year and the majority of them compete in global labor markets after graduation. I conduct a large-scale field experiment to study how employers in China value U.S. college education. I sent over 27,000 fictitious online applications to business and computer science jobs in China, randomizing the country of college education. I find that U.S.-educated applicants are on average 18 percent less likely to receive a callback than applicants educated in China, with applicants from very selective U.S. institutions underperforming those from the least selective Chinese institutions. The U.S.-China callback gap is smaller at high-wage jobs, consistent with employers fearing U.S.-educated applicants have better outside options and will be harder to hire and retain. The gap is also smaller at foreign-owned firms, consistent with Chinese-owned firms knowing less about American education. Controlling for high school quality, test scores, or U.S. work experiences does not attenuate the gap, suggesting that it is not driven by employer perceptions of negative selection. A companion employer survey of 260 hiring managers finds consistent and additional supporting evidence for the experimental findings.

Registration Citation

Citation
Chen, Mingyu. 2019. "The Value of U.S. College Education in Global Labor Markets: Experimental Evidence from China." AEA RCT Registry. March 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4037-1.0
Former Citation
Chen, Mingyu and Mingyu Chen. 2019. "The Value of U.S. College Education in Global Labor Markets: Experimental Evidence from China." AEA RCT Registry. March 28. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4037/history/44305
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2017-10-01
Intervention End Date
2018-05-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Whether an employer responses to a job application via phone call, text message, or email.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
I send 4 applications to each job. Two of them are assigned U.S. institutions ("treatment group") and the other two are assigned Chinese institutions ("control group"). Conditional on the same institutional country, I randomly vary college selectivity. I also randomize other resume attributes in order to test some of the mechanisms. There is also a companion survey that runs after the experiment. The survey started in fall of 2018 and will end in spring of 2019. See the paper for details.
Experimental Design Details
I target entry-level business and computer science jobs that require a bachelor’s degree and minimal work experience. Vacancies are posted on one of the largest Chinese online job boards.
Randomization Method
Randomization by computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual job application
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
7,000 job vacancies
Sample size: planned number of observations
28,000 job applications or resumes
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
7,000 in each of 4 treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials