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Japanese Lifetime Employment: A Century's Perspective

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  • Moriguchi, Chiaki

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois)

  • Ono, Hiroshi

    ()
    (Texas A&M University)

Abstract

This paper examines the origins and dynamic evolution of the lifetime employment system in Japan from the beginning of the 20th century to present. Based on the historical perspective developed in the paper, we derive implications to the future course of the Japanese employment system. In this paper, we view lifetime employment as an economic as well as social institution, characterized by an implicit contract and reciprocal exchange of trust, goodwill, and commitment between employers and workers. We argue that this institution emerged as an equilibrium outcome of the dynamic interactions among management, labor, and government and became an integral part of the nation's employment system over the past hundred years, reinforced by complementary institutions such as state welfare policies, labor laws, corporate governance, social norms, family values, and education system. Based on our long-run historical analysis, we reevaluate the cost and benefit both in terms of economic and social of the lifetime employment system and explore the factors that determine its efficiency and stability. We emphasize the importance of understanding labor market conditions, technology and the nature of human capital, interactions between social and economic aspects of employment relations, and the role of complementary institutions. The paper concludes by assessing changes in these factors in the post-bubble period, offering some insights to the future course of the Japanese employment system.

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File URL: http://swopec.hhs.se/eijswp/papers/eijswp0205.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The European Institute of Japanese Studies in its series EIJS Working Paper Series with number 205.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Institutional Change in Japan, Blomstrom, Magnus, La Croix, Sumner (eds.), 2006, pages 152-176, Routledge.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:eijswp:0205

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Web page: http://www.hhs.se/eijs/
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Related research

Keywords: Japan; institutional change; lifetime employment; implicit contract; labor laws; social norms; war; zaibatsu; state welfare policies; division of labor; gender; demand-side shocks; supply-side shocks.;

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References

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  1. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
  2. Hashimoto, Masanori & Raisian, John, 1985. "Employment Tenure and Earnings Profiles in Japan and the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 721-35, September.
  3. Hashimoto, Mansanori, 1993. "Aspects of Labor Market Adjustments in Japan," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 136-61, January.
  4. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1993. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 4480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
  6. Peter AUER & Sandrine CAZES, 2000. "The resilience of the long-term employment relationship: Evidence from the industrialized countries," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 139(4), pages 379-408, December.
  7. Ariga,Kenn & Brunello,Giorgio & Ohkusa,Yasushi, 2010. "Internal Labour Markets in Japan," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521142748.
  8. Jones, Derek C & Kato, Takao, 1995. "The Productivity Effects of Employee Stock-Ownership Plans and Bonuses: Evidence from Japanese Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 391-414, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kambayashi, Ryo & Kato, Takao, 2011. "Long-term Employment and Job Security over the Last Twenty-Five Years: A Comparative Study of Japan and the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 6183, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Hirokatsu Asano & Takahiro Ito & Daiji Kawaguchi, 2011. "Why Has the Fraction of Contingent Workers Increased? A Case Study of Japan," IDEC DP2 Series 1-3, Hiroshima University, Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC).
  3. Hamaaki, Junya & Hori, Masahiro & Maeda, Saeko & Murata, Keiko, 2011. "Changes in the Japanese Employment System in the Two Lost Decades," PIE/CIS Discussion Paper 511, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  4. Kambayashi, Ryo & Kato, Takao, 2012. "Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, and the Great Recession: Lessons from Japan's Lost Decade," IZA Discussion Papers 6666, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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