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Regional Inequality and Industrial Structures in Pre-War Japan: An Analysis Based on New Prefectural GDP Estimates

  • Jean-Pascal Bassino
  • Kyoji Fukao
  • Ralph Paprzycki
  • Tokihiko Settsu
  • Tangjun Yuan

Studies comparing regional income in Japan before and after World War II have frequently drawn a picture of radical change from an economy characterized by large regional disparities to one characterized by small regional disparities. This paper comes to a very different conclusion. Based on estimates of prefecture-level value added for five benchmark years from 1890 to 1940 (a detailed description of our estimation methodology is provided), we examine trends in the gap of economic development between prefectures during the pre-war period and find that this gap was much smaller than claimed in preceding studies and, in fact, not much greater than during the post-war period. Observing, moreover, a decline in inter-prefectural differences in terms of per-capita gross value added during the pre-war period, we conduct a factor analysis and find that a major reason for this decline was a decline in inter-prefectural differences in same-industry labor productivity. Thus, the picture of modern Japan's economic development presented here is very different from the one painted by preceding studies.

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File URL: http://gcoe.ier.hit-u.ac.jp/research/discussion/2008/pdf/gd10-138.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series with number gd10-138.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:hst:ghsdps:gd10-138
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  1. Nicholas Crafts, 2005. "Regional Gdp In Britain, 1871-1911: Some Estimates," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(1), pages 54-64, 02.
  2. Kyoji Fukao & Debin Ma & Tangjun Yuan, 2007. "Real Gdp In Pre-War East Asia: A 1934-36 Benchmark Purchasing Power Parity Comparison With The U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(3), pages 503-537, 09.
  3. Chiaki Moriguchi & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Income Concentration in Japan, 1886-2002: Evidence from Income Tax Statistics," NBER Working Papers 12558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kyoji Fukao & Osamu Saito, 2006. "Japan's alternating phases of growth and outlook for the future," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d06-196, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
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