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The middle class in Japan, 1994-2009: Trends and characteristics

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  • Soichiro Tanaka

    (Department of Economics, Kanto Gakuin University)

  • Masato Shikata

    (School of policy studies, Kwansei Gakuin University)

Abstract

In this study, we estimate the population shares of the Japanese middle class during 1994-2009 and discuss its characteristics. The middle class hovered around 65% (from 67.29% in 1994 to 65.21% in 2009) of the population, having 75-200% of each year's median income. However, if we fix the income ranges of the middle class to the 1994 level, the middle class declined considerably to 59.47% in 2009, the upper class also declined, and the lower class and the poor increased. Thus, the stability of the middle class seems due to the overall decline in Japan's income distribution. In addition, the population share of the middle class among the working population (18-64 years) is larger than that among the elderly population (65 years and over). Therefore, the middle class is in danger of shrinking further as the population continues ageing. Meanwhile, population ageing also affects redistributive policies: the share of social transfers of gross income is increasing and the redistributive effect of social security is growing. Additionally, despite declining income levels, there were no major changes in the share of income tax (including social insurance premiums) on gross income. This is, in fact, assumed to be due to factors such as increased social insurance rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Soichiro Tanaka & Masato Shikata, 2019. "The middle class in Japan, 1994-2009: Trends and characteristics," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2019-001, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.
  • Handle: RePEc:keo:dpaper:2019-001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Taro Ohno & Junpei Sakamaki & Daizo Kojima, 2020. "Factor decomposition of changes in the tax base for income tax," Discussion papers ron331, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Middle class; Income inequality; Poverty rate;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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