Confronting Income Inequality in Japan: A Comparative Analysis of Causes, Consequences, and Reform

Series: The MIT Press
A leading Japanese economist analyzes Japan's trend toward greater inequality of income and wealth distribution and makes policy recommendations for countering it.Contrary to general belief, and to Japan's own self-image, inequality of income and wealth distribution in Japan has grown in the past two decades. In this well-written and accessible book, Toshiaki Tachibanaki analyzes the movement toward more income inequality in Japan and offers policy recommendations to counter the trend. Tachibanaki, Japan's leading expert on income distribution, draws on new statistical data covering wealth, inheritance, farm and business holdings, salary, and other relevant factors, to demonstrate that Japan can no longer be thought of as a 90 percent middle-class society. The book, updated and substantially expanded from Tachibanaki's 1998 Japanese bestseller, discusses the history and the causes of Japan's increasing income inequality and analyzes the effect on wealth distribution of intergenerational transfer. Employing cross-national comparisons to the United States and Europe throughout, Confronting Income Inequality in Japan examines the contrast between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome, evaluates equality of opportunity in terms of education and occupation, analyzes the relationship between income distribution and income growth, discusses the role of hierarchical positions in organizations, and considers the differences between welfare states and nonwelfare states. Concluding with policy recommendations, Tachibanaki argues against the belief of some economists that greater inequality is unavoidable if Japan is to achieve a strong economic recovery.