The Value of Study Abroad Experience in the Labor Market: Findings from a Resume Audit Experiment
29 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2020 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 7, 2020
Conventional wisdom and some empirical research suggest that study abroad programs enhance skills and personal growth in ways that translate into success in the labor market. However, this research is limited by its inability to address sources of selection bias that may confound the positive relationship between study abroad experience and labor-market success. To overcome these limitations, we conduct a field experiment where we submitted fictitious resumes to potential employers, randomizing some resumes to list study abroad experience. With this resume audit, we estimate the causal relationship between participation in study abroad experience and the likelihood of receiving a callback from a potential employer. We also tested for potential heterogeneities by the location (i.e., Asia versus Europe) and length (i.e., two weeks versus one year) of the study abroad experience. Compared to resumes that list no study abroad experience, resumes that list study abroad experience in Asia regardless of length are about 20 percent more likely to receive a callback for an interview if the resume listed study abroad experience. The difference in rates increases to 25 percent when comparing resumes without study abroad experience to those that list two-week programs in Asia. Resumes that list study abroad experience in Europe for one year are 20 percent less likely to receive any callback and 35 percent less likely to receive a call back for an interview, relative to resumes that do not list study abroad experience. Implications about the value of study abroad are discussed.
Keywords: Study abroad, Employment, Resume Audit
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