GIGA Seminar in Socio-Economics

Failing the Test: The Countervailing Attitudinal Effects of Civil Service Examinations

Lecture by Nicholas Kuipers, Researcher at UC Berkeley and Stanford University




04:00 p.m. (CET)


05:15 p.m. (CET)

  • I surveyed the universe of recent applicants to the Indonesian civil service to study the effects of high stakes examinations on political attitudes. Leveraging applicants’ scores on the civil service examination, I employ a regression discontinuity design to compare the attitudes of applicants who narrowly failed against those who narrowly passed.

    I show that the simple fact of failure on the civil service examination negatively affects applicants’ belief in the legitimacy of the process, some attitudes towards outgroups, and national identification. Next, I find that applicants who were offered—and accepted— employment in the civil service reported higher satisfaction with the process, greater amity towards outgroups, and higher national identification. Since more applicants fail than pass, these results suggest that civil service examination outcomes may have unintended consequences for social cohesion—particularly in contexts where successful applicants disproportionately hail from specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups.

    Speaker: Nicholas Kuipers is researcher at the UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

    Please note that the seminar will take place via Microsoft Teams. If you like to participate in the seminar, please send an email beforehand to: Upon registration you will receive an email invite including the Microsoft Teams link.


    Online event

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