2002 OECD Economic Surveys: Japan 2002

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This 2002 edition of OECD's periodic economic survey of Japan examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects and includes special features covering structural reform and sources of growth.

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Human Capital, Technology and Sectoral Policies for Growth

This chapter takes up some key regulatory issues concerning the network sectors as well as policy questions more directly linked to growth, including human capital formation and the arrangements for R&D and for university research. The first section examines reforms of the network sectors – telecommunications, electricity and gas and posts. In the context of growth, the sectors are playing different roles.  Telecommunications prices and the availability of services has a direct connection via costs with the diffusion of information and communications technologies (ICT). Despite the hype of the late 1990s, the diffusion of ICT appears to have an effect on productivity and growth although the process is complex, and can involve productivity gains in traditional sectors. The linkage of the other network sectors to growth is less direct. Electricity prices are high by world standards so that a reduction in costs due to competition would be expected to raise the steady state level of real incomes so that the direct impact on the growth rate would be only temporary. The postal sector is important because of its control of a huge amount of savings. However, in other  ountries courier and fast mail services have been an important growth sector. The second section deals with human capital formation covering not only tertiary education but also skill formation more generally that has traditionally been provided by enterprise training. The third section covers the difficult and hard to define area of technology including how policy and institutions affect the way enterprises go about furthering their research and innovation capability. The incentive structure the universities face appears to be an important determinant of their behaviour, and recent policies to improve the productivity of these institutions are also reviewed...

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