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Is the Selfish Life-Cycle Model More Applicable in Japan and, If So, Why? A Literature Survey

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  • Charles Yuji Horioka

Abstract

The selfish life-cycle model or hypothesis is, together with the dynasty or altruism model, the most widely used theoretical model of household behavior in economics, but does this model apply in the case of a country like Japan, which is said to have closer family ties than other countries? In this paper, we first provide a brief exposition of the simplest version of the selfish life-cycle model and then survey the literature on household saving and bequest behavior in Japan in order to answer this question. The paper finds that almost all of the available evidence suggests that the selfish life-cycle model applies to at least some extent in all countries but that there is more consistent support for this model in Japan than in the United States and other countries. It then explores possible explanations for why the life-cycle model is more consistently supported in Japan than in other countries, attributing this finding to government policies, institutional factors, economic factors, demographic factors, and cultural factors. Finally, it shows that the findings of the paper have many important implications for economic modeling and for government tax and expenditure policies.

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  • Charles Yuji Horioka, 2020. "Is the Selfish Life-Cycle Model More Applicable in Japan and, If So, Why? A Literature Survey," NBER Working Papers 27869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27869
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D15 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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