Bachelor of art graduates in Japan who are strong in mathematics and science tend to earn higher salaries than those who hate these subjects, a Kyoto University survey released Wednesday indicates.

The proficiency gap, according to Kazuo Nishimura, a professor at Kyoto University’s Institute of Economic Research, could translate into a salary gap of as much as 930,000 yen a year in the case of mathematics.

Humanities graduates who were strong in science at high school could also earn 600,000 yen more a year on average than those who cited science as a weak area, the survey shows.

Nishimura, who directed the yearlong study, said the earnings gap apparently reflects the ability of humanities graduates who are strong in the sciences to “think logically” and get into a wider range of employment than those who shy away from science subjects.

Nishimura said the survey was conducted in February 2001 by polling 6,000 people — aged from their 20s to 50s who graduated from the humanities departments of three key private universities in Tokyo and the Kansai area.

To study the earnings gap, the pollsters compared replies from 788 respondents who took part in the standard college entrance exam and graduated after 1983.

Nishimura said the 1983 cut-off line is significant as students who got into the humanities faculties tended to ignore science subjects after the introduction of the standard college entrance exam that year.

“Mathematics and science help people identify and resolve problems, whereas humanities-bound students who took the standard college entrance exam tend to ignore mathematics and science subjects,” Nishimura said in explaining the apparent earnings gap.

A strong background in mathematics and science apparently is not the only determining factor for higher salaries.

According to the survey, the annual salaries of humanities graduates who are strong in the English language are, on average, 420,000 yen higher than those who are weak in that subject.

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