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Vol. 7 The Journal of Social Policy and Labor Studies (Shakai-seisaku Gakkai shi)


HOME > PUBLICATIONS > Early Journals > The Journal of Social Policy and Labor Studies (Shakai-seisaku Gakkai shi) (1999-2007)

Economic Inequality and Economic Polices

                          Toshiaki TACHIBANAKI

The paper examines the relationship between economic inequality (i.e., income distribution) and economic policies.There are two methods in order to reduce the degree of income inequality in redistributed incomes (i.e., disposable incomes).The first is to reduce inequality in primary incomes (i.e., before-tax incomes), and at the same time not to use tax and social security policies. The second is to use tax and social security policies to reduce inequality in primary incomes. The paper discusses the merit and the demerit of these two methods, and shows a speculation that the second method is preferable if the society has an agreement that it is desirable to reduce inquality in redistributed incomes.

The paper also presented four strategies for the first method. (1) Intensifying the minimum wage law, (2) Reducing the difference in per-hour wages between full-timers and part-timers, (3) Reducing wage payments between larger firms and smaller firms, and (4) The introduction of various safety net systems.



About the Present Condition of the Belt of Labor Market in Japan : From a Survey on the Actual Condition of Rural Areas

Shinji OHSU

This report clarifies economic gap structure in Japan through changes in the rural labor market and considers methods to reform this gap structure from its lowest level is realized.

It is widely pointed out that Japan presently faces growing economic gap. However simply pointing out the problem does not provide any solution to the questions, “Which direction should the economic gap be steered ” or simply “Is the gap going to the right direction ”, because no one knows the admissible extent of the gap.

The best approach to the addressing gap problem is to improve its lowest level. Its improvement would steadily narrow the economic gap.

This approach will assure us that we will not make a mistake when narrowing the gap.

The first step for us to take to realize this approach is to prasp the exact elements of those who are considered to belong to the lowest group.

The rural labor market consists of the base of the labor market in Japan. At the base, both family agricultural labor and non-agricultural labor are mixed in part-time farm households.

The mixtures differ by esch part-time farm household recognizing the actual condition of the part-time farm household by class, and solve the nature of inconsistency at its concentration point. This paper shows that solution of this inconsistency is an important focal point in the relaxation of economic gap.



The Japanese Wage Differential and the Suppliers System

Hirofumi UEDA

This study intends to clarify what and how the wage differential in the Japanese automobile industry has been determined by the size of companies. In Japan, mass-production in the automobile industry started around 1960 and the original Japanese suppliers system also started at that time. One of the reasons the car makers adopted the suppliers system was that the wage differential between the car makers and their suppliers was large because the average age of the car makers was older in the late 1950s. Toyota and Nissan had stopped employment after the big labor struggle in the early 1950s.

In the 1970s the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW) was established. JAW is composed of the group-wide organizations such as the Federation of All Toyota Workers’ Unions and each group-wide organization aimed to unify and stabilize the level of wage rises. The wage differential among the group that includes the car maker and the suppliers has been stable since the 1970s.

Since the 1990s under difficult conditions the car makers has adopted a new cost reduction program and their suppliers also have pursued cost reduction more and more. Although the wage differential of regular workers was stable in the 1990s, some suppliers have employed more irregular workers for labor cost reduction.



Japanese Women in Class Structure


This article aims to clarify the structure and trend of economic and social inequalities among Japanese women in the light of class theory. The economic and social situations of Japanese women are investigated in terms of their class locations, marital situations and their husbands’ class locations, using SSM survey data 1985 and 1995. Many aspects such as individual and family income, characteristics of gender roles, perception of status and consciousness about living standard among Japanese women, are well accounted in terms of class and marital status. Though inequality in the chance of class mobility is reduced, economic inequality among women is widened between 1985 and 1995, especially within new and old middle classes respectively. In sum, it can be said that contemporary Japan is a class society for women, because of various inequalities caused by class structure, either directly or indirectly via social structures such as family or business organization.



Toward a New Perspective of Women’s Social Mobility : An Analysis of Status Attainment through Earning Function


The thrust of this article is to suggest a new approach in analyzing gender inequality in social stratification research. Women were not regarded as agents of social mobility due to certain implicit assumptions concerning social stratification research. Though this indifference on the ‘gender issue’ was challenged, the problem was not solved because there is no consensus as to which indicator best represents both employed and non-employed women all together. In order to measure status attainment of women without reducing their heterogeneity, not only technical improvements but also conceptual changes are necessary. This article suggests that we should abandon the concept of monolithic stratification and reconstruct the concept of status. I propose to break down the concept of social status into two dimensions, occupational status and living-standard status.

By analying direct and indirect paths of women’s status attainment separately, I will attempt to show the existence of complicity between the two dimensions, which, I argue, account for gender inquality.



Employment and Unemployment of Young Workers in France

Hiromasa SUZUKI

This paper reviews unemployment issues of young workers in France. Since the 1970s, major policy issues in this country have revolved around the high unemployment rates for young workers. Several avenues of policies have been attempted: to give longer schooling to the young population (the average schooling years rose by 3 years from 1982-1983 to 1996-1997) and to provide subsidies (often with the possibility of vocational training) for the employment of young workers. Lately, employment policies tend to focus more sharply on those workers with a vulnerable profile (for instance, school dropouts in areas where industry is declining).

Cohort surveys of young workers show that they tend to have a much longer period of transition (often 5 years of more) between school and work (stable employment). This transition is, for many young people, a variegated and longer trajectory composed of periods of fix-term employment, unemployment and training before arriving to a stable open-ended employment. This trend is partly due to the difficulties and conditions of the labour market but also partly due to the desire of young people to find suitable jobs.



The Relationship between the Public Sector and the Private Sector in Postwar Japanese Social Welfare Legislation and the Inherent Restriction on the Private Sector

Tsutomu KITABA

This paper discusses the role assignment of the public sector and the private sector in the social welfare of postwar Japan. In the welfare legislations under the postwar occupation, the following principles regulated the relationship between the public sector and the private sector.

①? Operational responsibility assumed by the state and prohibition of delegation to other agencies.

②? Separation of the field and financial administration between a public sector and a private sector.

③? Prohibition of public-funds expenditure for private social work not under the control of public authority.

In the Japanese situation, private social work was commissioned to execute governmental office work, and public funds were concentrated on private social work under the control of the authorities. Such a transition changed previous principles and brought about a public-private relation peculiar to Japan. This Japanese public-private relation played a role in restraining public support regarding private social entreprises for welfare services at home.



The Social Isolation of the Elderly and Social Welfare Services in Japan

Katsuyoshi KAWAI

The main objective of this paper is to ascertain the number of elderly who live in isolation and to gain a clear understanding of their living conditions. According to my investigation of the elderly (over 65 years old) living alone in Minato-Ku, Tokyo, 30 percent are living in isolation and face various difficulties. In case of 40 percent of this age-group, the annual income is only two million yen, which is equivalent to the benefits normally provided by public assistance. Only 12. 7 percent of this group receive public assistance. The elderly who live in isolation often have inadequate access to information and are unable to make appropriate decisions regarding social welfare services. It is clear that the quantity and the seriousness of these social isolation problems cannot be bypassed when we consider the needs of the elderly and what social welfare services should be provided.



Globalization and Its Effect on the Welfare State: A Case Study of EU Member Countries


This article analyzes the influences of globalization on welfare states in the EU which have completed the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. There are four main questions concerning this theme : First, does globalization reduce the autonomy of macro-economic policies in these countries Second, if so, will the reduction of autonomy of macro-economic policies induce “a race to the bottom”? Third, consequently, will “the race to the bottom” bring “convergence towards the Anglo-Saxon model”? Finally, will “the convergence towards the Anglo-Saxon model” result in “the end of the nation state”? Using the latest socio-economic data, the four hypotheses mentioned above are examined in this article. As a result, the author concludes that all the EU member countries have lost their autonomy over macro-economic policies since the start of the EMU, and the EMU has caused “the race to the bottom”. However, there is no evidence which shows “the convergence towards the Anglo-Saxon model” and “the end of the nation state”.



A Sketch of Taiwan’s National Pension Debate : Late Welfare State Formation in the Global Economy


In recent years there has been renewed interest in the social policies of Asian countries. The aim of this paper is to investigate Taiwan’s National Pension debate after democratization. This topic is significant not only because of its theoretical importance for comparative welfare state studies, but also because of its practical relevance for indentifying the political-economic conditions for welfare state formation in the developing world. Why is it that democratization has not led automatically to the introduction of National Pension System? Certain internal factors should be considered. Differentiated social insurance schemes as a legacy of authoritarian regime, and many trivial benefit schemes as a result of electoral contests after democratization cause great difficulty in establishing a new integrated system. In understanding welfare state formation of newly democratized countries, institutional legacy must be looked into more carefully. On the other hand, there are also some external factors that require examination. Globalization fuels international economic competition, and undermines fiscal autonomy of national governments. Thus, new president Chen, whose DPP(Democratic Progressive Party) had promised to establish a “welfare state”, could not avoid declaring the postponement of the introduction of National Pension System. We should take into account that the international circumstances of Taiwan’s welfare state formation are quite different from those of advanced countries in the post-war era.



The Significance of 401(k)s in U.S. Retirement Income Policy : A Comparison with Corporate-IRAs in the Early 1980s.


This paper studies the significance of 401(k)s in U.S. retirement income policy. For that purpose, I observe corporate-IRAs, the 401(k)-type plans which are defined as employee benefit plans with tax-deducted employees’ contributions. Conclusion consists of the following two points :

First, the 401(k)-type plans were of two political backgrounds. For one, the government tried to increase savings to boost the economy as part of the economic policy. For the other, retirement savings were encouraged as a income policy. The 401(k)-type plans were not unique ideas of a private benefit consultant, as generally said.

Second, friction between these two political backgrounds became a main issue in the history of the 401(k)s. For example 401(k)s, made by the private consultant and the IRS, imposed fewer regulations, as a retirement income policy, than corporate-IRAs made by Congress. This is why the 401(k)s could prevail over corporate-IRAs. In the Tax Reform Act of 1986, some regulations for the retirement income policy were added to the 401(k)s. After the enactment, the political issues over the 401(k)s have been raised from the conflict between the retirement income policy and the economic policy.



The Introduction of the Job Evaluation System in a Steel Plant

Hiroyuki AOKI

The objective of this paper is to examine the introduction of the job evaluation system performed at the K plant of F Iron and Steel Company in 1957, and to clarify its significances and limitations. In the revision of the wage system, job evaluations were applied to the individual calculation of group incentive pay.

Of primary importance, through job evaluations performed from 1956 to 1957 the central staff (labor division, efficiency section etc) was able to gain specific information previously only known to employees on the workshop. Secondly, the job evaluation system enabled the central staff to set all of the work of more than 1000 jobs on the basis of a unitary value standard and to attain a mutual comparison. This is a milestone in the history of development of personnel and production management.

At the same time, however, there was the limitation in the control capability of central staff, and they had to concede to the opinions of the workshop leader in the adjustment of job evaluations. Consequently, job evaluations came to be determined by the particularities of each plant, and whole-company unification ended in failure. To conclude, the job evaluation system introduced in 1957 became at the utmost only an index with which job value is expressed in a plant.



International Relocation of Production Process and Introduction of Migrant Workers in Japanese Garment Industry


This paper examines the relationship between international relocation of the production process and the introduction of migrant workers by Japanese firms, using the garment industry as an example.

In the 1990s, many Japanese manufacturers in the garment industry moved their factories to China, searching for a low wage labor force. At the same time, the firms, where the relocation of production process was difficult, utilized foreign trainees as low wage labor forces.

In the UK and the US, domestic manufacturers lost a large share of the market to overseas suppliers in the 1980s. Those firms, which managed to survive, came to rely on homeworkers and female migrant workers who were employed by ethnic minority entrepreneurs. The imigrants society which provides such a labor force does not exist in Japan. From the 1990, foreign trainees were introduced as a young and low wage labor force. Because the trainee is an “unfree laborer” who does not have the freedom to move, firms can secure a stable labor force at a lower wage. In that sense, foreign trainees were in the same position as female migrant workers in the UK and the US.

The foreign traineeship program promotes internationalization of the labor market in two ways. First, it enables smaller firms to secure a low wage labor force. Secondly, it raises a laborer’s skill level by training and helps larger firms transfer their production process outside the country. The more production abroad is expanded, and the labor force, with a certain level of skill, increases, the more the source of the labor force supply to Japan increase.