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Changes in the Japanese Employment System in the Two Lost Decades

Author

Listed:
  • Junya Hamaaki
  • Masahiro Hori
  • Saeko Maeda
  • Keiko Murata

Abstract

The authors re-examine developments in two key elements of the Japanese employment system, seniority-based wages and lifetime employment, using recent microdata from the Basic Survey on Wage Structure. In contrast with previous studies, the authors find evidence that these practices are eroding. For seniority wages, for example, they find that the age-wage profile has become flatter in recent years, especially for employees in the middle and final phase of their careers. And for lifetime employment, a clear downward trend has developed since the early 2000s in the share of lifetime employees among younger, university-educated workers. The findings suggest that a growing share of educated younger workers choose to leave indefinite-contract jobs due to the poor prospects for seniority-based wage progression, while older workers choose to stay in their present job despite stagnating wages, because it may be more difficult for them to find alternative employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Junya Hamaaki & Masahiro Hori & Saeko Maeda & Keiko Murata, 2012. "Changes in the Japanese Employment System in the Two Lost Decades," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 65(4), pages 810-846, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:65:y:2012:i:4:p:810-846
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Satoshi Shimizutani & Izumi Yokoyama, 2006. "Has Japan's Long-term employment Practice Survived? New Evidence Emerging Since the 1990s," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d06-182, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Moriguchi, Chiaki & Ono, Hiroshi, 2004. "Japanese Lifetime Employment: A Century's Perspective," EIJS Working Paper Series 205, Stockholm School of Economics, The European Institute of Japanese Studies.
    3. Rebick, M., 2000. "Japanese Labour Markets: Can we Expect Significant Change?," Economics Series Working Papers 9921, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Hiroshi Ono & Marcus Rebick, 2003. "Constraints on the Level and Efficient Use of Labor," NBER Chapters, in: Structural Impediments to Growth in Japan, pages 225-258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Kato, Takao, 2001. "The End of Lifetime Employment in Japan?: Evidence from National Surveys and Field Research," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 489-514, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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