No. 10679: Moving On Up for High School Graduates in Russia: The Consequences of the Unified State Exam Reform
In 2009, Russia introduced a reform that changed the admissions process in all universities. Before 2009, admission decisions were based on institution-specific entry exams; the reform required universities to determine their decisions on the results of a national high-school test known as Unified State Exam (USE). One of the main goals of the reform was to make education in top colleges accessible to students from peripheral areas who typically did not enroll in university programs. Using panel data from 1994 to 2014, we evaluate the effect of the USE reform on student mobility. We find the reform led to a substantial increase in mobility rates among high school graduates from peripheral areas to start college by about 12 percentage points, a three-fold increase with respect to the pre-reform mobility rate. This was accompanied by a 40–50% increase in the likelihood of financial transfers from parents to children around the time of the move and a 70% increase in the share of educational expenditures in the last year of the child's high school. We find no effect on parental labor supply and divorce.