Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/148201
Authors: 
Horioka, Charles Yuji
Year of Publication: 
2016
Series/Report no.: 
ISER Discussion Paper, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University 973
Abstract: 
In this paper, we attempt to shed light on whether Japanese households are rational or if their behavior is influenced by culture and social norms by examining their saving and bequest behavior. To summarize our main findings, we find that Japan's household saving rate showed great volatility, was often low and even negative, and was high only during the 25-year period from around 1960 until the mid-1980s (if we exclude the war years) and that we can explain the high level of, and trends over time in, Japan's household saving rate via various socioeconomic and policy variables. This seems to suggest that the Japanese are not a saving-loving people and that their saving behavior is not governed by culture and social norms. Moreover, the bequest behavior of the Japanese suggests that they are less altruistic toward their children and less reliant on their children than other peoples, suggesting that the alleged social norm of strong family ties in Japan is largely a myth, and the Japanese do not appear to be appreciably more concerned about the continuation of the family line or the family business than other peoples, suggesting that the influence of the "ie" system is apparently not so pervasive either. However, we argue that these findings do not necessarily mean that culture and social norms do not matter.
Subjects: 
Altruism
bequest behavior
bequest division
bequest motives
Confucianism
culture
economic rationality
family ties
frugality
households
household behavior
household saving
"ie" system
Japan
Nihonjinron
parent-child relations
rationality
saving
saving behavior
social norms
values
JEL: 
D10
D14
D64
D91
E21
H55
J11
Z10
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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