Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Unemployment in Japan: A look at the ‘lost decade’

Agnese, Pablo and Hector, Sala (2008): Unemployment in Japan: A look at the ‘lost decade’. Published in: Asia Pacific Journal of Economics and Business , Vol. 12, No. 1 (2008): pp. 16-35.

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The ‘lost decade’ in Japan was a period of steep surge in unemployment. It started in 1991 with the unemployment rate at 2.1%, and ended in 2002 when it reached a historical maximum of 5.5%. To assess the main causes of this rise we take a macroeconomic perspective and estimate a reduced-form unemployment model. This model, containing a rich set of variables, yields an interesting picture. The fall of private investment played the main role, while private consumption and the boost in government spending partially offset this recessive effect. In turn, the initial rise in participation rates and the East Asian crisis after 1997 added new burdens to the labor market. We conclude that a crucial issue in the medium-run is to avoid the consequences of the prolonged decline in investment in terms of reduced productivity growth and a weaker international trade performance.

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