1887

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Income Inequality, Poverty and Social Spending in Japan

Income inequality and relative poverty among the working-age population in Japan have risen to levels above the OECD average. This trend is partially explained by labour market dualism, with an increasing proportion of non-regular workers who are paid significantly less than regular workers, as well as by other factors, including the ageing of the workforce. Social spending as a share of GDP has been expanding in the context of population ageing, although it remains below the OECD average and the proportion received by low-income households is small. Consequently, the impact of social spending on inequality and poverty is weak compared to other OECD countries and inadequate to offset the deterioration in market income. The scope for increasing social spending is constrained by the fiscal situation. Instead, reversing the upward trend in inequality and poverty requires reforms to reduce labour market dualism and better target social spending on low-income households, particularly single parents. This Working Paper relates to the 2006 OECD Economic Survey of Japan (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/japan).

English

Keywords: income distribution, employment protection, absolute poverty, social spending, non-regular workers, relative poverty, Japan, income inequality, labour market dualism, Gini coefficient
JEL: I38: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs; I32: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
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