OECD Economic Surveys: Japan 2017
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OECD Economic Surveys: Japan 2017

Economic growth has picked up since Abenomics was launched in 2013, and so has job creation. However, Japan faces serious demographic headwinds, as its population is projected to decline by a quarter over 2015-50, with the share over age 65 rising from 26% to almost 40%. Firms already face labour shortages. Population ageing also puts upward pressure on government spending. Gross government debt, which has risen to 219% of GDP, the highest ever recorded in the OECD area, continues to rise. Labour productivity is about a quarter below the top half of OECD countries despite Japan's high levels of human capital, R&D and business investment. Slowing productivity growth has been accompanied by increased income inequality and relative poverty. Gender gaps in employment and wages are relatively large. This Economic Survey of Japan assesses the country’s recent macroeconomic performance and prospects, and offers recommendations to boost productivity and foster more inclusive growth. In particular, the expanding gap between leading and lagging firms should be narrowed by promoting business sector dynamism and entrepreneurship. Breaking down labour market dualism is a priority to bring about inclusive growth and raise productivity. Faster productivity and output growth, accompanied by measures to limit public spending growth and gradually increase government revenue, would help ensure fiscal sustainability.

SPECIAL FEATURES: PRODUCTIVITY FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH; FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY

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Boosting productivity for inclusive growth You do not have access to this content

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Never in the past 30 years has productivity growth been lower than since the 2008 global financial crisis, and never has income inequality been higher than it is today in Japan, and in the OECD area. The two challenges have some common origins, including a widening productivity and wage gap between leading firms and those that are lagging. This creates scope for positive synergy between policies to promote productivity and inclusive growth. Exit policy should be improved to facilitate the closure of non-viable firms, whose survival hampers the growth of viable firms in Japan. This would also increase firm entry, along with policies to promote entrepreneurship. The growing gap between Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and large firms also needs to be addressed. Breaking down labour market dualism, which limits human capital accumulation by non-regular workers and contributes to earnings and income inequality, is also a priority. Finally, ensuring appropriate skills, including those needed for digitalisation, would help support higher productivity and inclusive growth.

 
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