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How Did Japan Catch-Up On The West? A Sectoral Analysis Of Anglo-Japanese Productivity Differences, 1885-2000

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  • Broadberry, Stephen N
  • Fukao, Kyoji
  • Zammit, Nick

Abstract

Although Japanese economic growth after the Meiji Restoration is often characterised as a gradual process of trend acceleration, comparison with the United States suggests that catching-up only really started after 1950, due to the unusually dynamic performance of the US economy before 1950. A comparison with the United Kingdom, still the world productivity leader in 1868, reveals an earlier period of Japanese catching up between the 1890s and the 1920s, with a pause between the 1920s and the 1940s. Furthermore, this earlier process of catching up was driven by the dynamic productivity performance of Japanese manufacturing, which is also obscured by a comparison with the United States. Japan overtook the UK as a major exporter of manufactured goods not simply by catching-up in labour productivity terms, but by holding the growth of real wages below the growth of labour productivity so as to enjoy a unit labour cost advantage. Accounting for levels differences in labour productivity between Japan and the United Kingdom reveals an important role for capital in the catching-up process, casting doubt on the characterisation of Japan as following a distinctive Asian path of labour intensive industrialisation.

Suggested Citation

  • Broadberry, Stephen N & Fukao, Kyoji & Zammit, Nick, 2015. "How Did Japan Catch-Up On The West? A Sectoral Analysis Of Anglo-Japanese Productivity Differences, 1885-2000," CEPR Discussion Papers 10570, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10570
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephen Broadberry & Douglas A. Irwin, 2007. "Lost Exceptionalism? Comparative Income and Productivity in Australia and the UK, 1861-1948," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 83(262), pages 262-274, September.
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    5. Broadberry, Stephen, 2003. "Relative Per Capita Income Levels in the United Kingdom and the United States since 1870: Reconciling Time-Series Projections and Direct-Benchmark Estimates," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(03), pages 852-863, September.
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    7. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2008. "The Depressing Effect of Agricultural Institutions on the Prewar Japanese Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 573-632, August.
    8. Broadberry, Stephen N., 1993. "Manufacturing and the Convergence Hypothesis: What the Long-Run Data Show," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(04), pages 772-795, December.
    9. Allen, Robert C., 2012. "Technology and the great divergence: Global economic development since 1820," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 1-16.
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    12. Broadberry, Stephen N., 1998. "How Did the United States and Germany Overtake Britian? A Sectoral Analysis of Comparative Productivity Levels, 1870–1990," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 375-407, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. MA, Ye & JONG, Herman de, 2016. "Unfolding the Turbulent Century: A Reconstruction of China's Economic Development, 1840-1912," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-29, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Broadberry, Stephen & Giordano, Claire & Zollino, Francesco, 2011. "A Sectoral Analysis of Italy's Development: 1861 -2010," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 62, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    international comparison; labour productivity; sectoral disaggregation;

    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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