This paper examines the long-term consequences of elementary school curricula on the formation of social preferences. The estimation results, using Japanese data, show that the hidden (non-academic) curriculum at public elementary schools varies widely by region and is associated with preference formation. Specifically, people who have experienced participatory and cooperative learning practices are more likely to be altruistic, cooperative with others, reciprocal, and have national pride. In contrast, education emphasizing anti-competitive practices is negatively associated with these attributes. Such contrasts can also be seen in other preferences regarding government policies and the market economy. The findings imply that elementary school education, as a place for early socialization, plays an important role in the formation of life-long social preferences.
The Japanese Economic Review 2020-01-24