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Economic Development and Income Distribution in Japan: An Assessment of the Kuznets Hypothesis

  • Minami, Ryoshin
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    In this paper the author estimates the income distribution in pre-war Japan. For 1921-39, two sets of statistics were combined: national personal income tax data for high-income classes and household tax (one of the local taxes) data in 149 villages, 45 towns and 16 cities for low-income classes. For 1891-1921, a preliminary estimation was attempted based on 39 selected villages, towns and cities. From this estimation, he found a regressing income distribution for the pre-war period and a dramatic decrease in inequality between pre-war and post-war periods. The first finding supports the Kuznets hypothesis; the second does not. Rather, it suggests that the relatively equal distribution in contemporary Japan was nor a natural consequence of economic growth but a result of institutional changes immediately after the Second World War. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.

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    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 22 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 39-58

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:22:y:1998:i:1:p:39-58
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