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Is Japan's saving rate high?


  • Fumio Hayashi


There are two major differences between Japan and the United States in the way saving is calculated in their national accounts. First, depreciation in Japanese national accounts is based on historical costs, which leads to an understatement of true depreciation and hence an overstatement of net saving. Second, government capital formation is not included in U.S. saving. This article adjusts the official Japanese saving numbers by evaluating depreciation at replacement costs and excluding government capital formation from saving. Doing so significantly reduces the apparent gap between the national saving rates of the two countries. Since 1970 Japan's national saving rate has been declining to the stationary U.S. rate. This trend, however, has been reversed in recent years. In contrast, Japan's wealth-to-income ratio (excluding land), after declining in the late 1950s, has been rising toward the U.S. ratio and has reached the U.S. level in 1987.

Suggested Citation

  • Fumio Hayashi, 1989. "Is Japan's saving rate high?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 3-9.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1989:i:spr:p:3-9:n:v.13no.2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fumio Hayashi, 1986. "Why Is Japan's Saving Rate So Apparently High?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 147-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    1. Fumio Hayashi, 1989. "Japan's Saving Rate: New Data and Reflections," NBER Working Papers 3205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Albert Ando & Dimitrios Christelis & Tsutomu Miyagawa, 2003. "Inefficiency of Corporate Investment and Distortion of Savings Behavior in Japan," NBER Chapters,in: Structural Impediments to Growth in Japan, pages 155-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Thomas A. Barthold & Takatoshi Ito, 1992. "Bequest Taxes and Accumulation of Household Wealth: U.S.-Japan Comparison," NBER Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Tax Reform, NBER-EASE Volume 1, pages 235-292 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Francesco Busato & Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2008. "Consumption and income smoothing," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(17), pages 2191-2207.
    5. Shimono Keiko & Ishikawa Miho, 2002. "Estimating the Size of Bequests in Japan: 1986-1994," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 1-21.
    6. David F. Bradford, 1990. "What is National Saving?: Alternative Measures in Historical and International Context," NBER Working Papers 3341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2001. "Transition Dynamics in Vintage Capital Models: Explaining the Postwar Catch-up of Germany and Japan," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-113, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    8. John Krainer & Mark M. Spiegel & Nobuyoshi Yamori, 2005. "Asset price declines and real estate market illiquidity: evidence from Japanese land values," Working Paper Series 2004-16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    9. Magnus Blomström & Robert E. Lipsey & Mario Zejan, 1996. "Is Fixed Investment the Key to Economic Growth?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 269-276.
    10. Dekle, Robert, 2004. "Financing consumption in an aging Japan: The role of foreign capital inflows and immigration," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 506-527, December.
    11. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Kenneth D. West, 1996. "Business Fixed Investment and the Recent Business Cycle in Japan," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 277-344 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Kenneth D. West, 2006. "Land Prices and Business Fixed Investment in Japan," Chapters,in: Long-run Growth and Short-run Stabilization, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Robert E. Lipsey & Irving B. Kravis, 1987. "Is the U.S. a Spendthrift Nation?," NBER Working Papers 2274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Rappaport, Jordan, 2006. "A bottleneck capital model of development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2113-2129, November.
    15. Selo Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Japanese Saving Rate," 2005 Meeting Papers 747, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Fumio Hayashi & Takatoshi Ito & Joel Slemrod, 1987. "Housing Finance Imperfections and Private Saving: A Comparative Simulation Analysis of the U.S. and Japan," NBER Working Papers 2272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Albert Ando, 2000. "On the Japanese Economy and Japanese National Accounts," NBER Working Papers 8033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Robert Dekle & Lawrence Summers, 1991. "Japan's High Saving Rate Reaffirmed," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 9(2), pages 63-78, September.
    19. Lawrence J. Christiano & Terry J. Fitzgerald, 2000. "Understanding the fiscal theory of the price level," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q II, pages 2-38.
    20. Gollin, Douglas, 2008. "Nobody's business but my own: Self-employment and small enterprise in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 219-233, March.
    21. Sebastian Edwards, 1995. "Why are Saving Rates so Different Across Countries?: An International Comparative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. David W. Campbell, 1999. "Explaining Japan's Saving Rate," Macroeconomics 9902004, EconWPA.
    23. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2006. "The Dissaving of the Aged Revisited: The Case of Japan," NBER Working Papers 12351, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Iwamoto, Yasushi, 1996. "Japan's saving rate is indeed lower than Professor Hayashi revealed," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 35-41, March.

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    Saving and investment ; Japan;


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