Thursday, August 20, 2009

Op-ed on the DPJ and growth

The Wall Street Journal Asia has published an op-ed version of the paper I wrote with Naomi Fink.

It's available here.

5 comments:

Noah said...

I dunno, man. I think your and Ms. Fink's analysis skirts around two of the biggest problems dragging down Japanese growth: low female employment and low service-sector productivity. Fiscal policy is important, don't get me wrong, but in the medium/long run growth is going to depend on more efficient use of resources.

PaxAmericana said...

Noah,

Your examples bring out the important point that GDP numbers don't measure quality of life very well. American families are now quite stressed compared to a few decades ago, and a lot of the GDP growth has come from families not having time to do anything at home, so services have grown, and mothers being forced to work. So the economists see growth, but a lot of us see decline in the society.

Tobias Harris said...

Pax,

I see your point – but there is a difference between "GDP-ism" (growth for growth's sake) and acknowledging that without growth Japan's government will have a hard time meeting the obligations the public expects. Standing still doesn't seem to be an option: either forward or back.

Noah,

I don't disagree with you: companies should be incentivized to employ more women, but not just employ more women but accommodate them so that they can be employees and mothers.

Noah said...

Pax,

Nobody's forcing American mothers to work. Many simply chose to, given the option.

The idea that restrictions on women's employment are somehow forcing people to have higher-quality lives than they would choose on their own is, frankly, a bit silly.

Tobias,

I've often wondered if METI and the MoF just started flat-out telling companies to offer women the same opportunities as men, if that wouldn't solve the inequality problem overnight...what do you think?

PaxAmericana said...

Tobias,

GDPism is practically the religion in the LDP, and it seems to have run out of gas, at least as they practice it. But you are right that standing still isn't a reasonable alternative on the economics front, and your piece has some ideas worth considering.

Noah,

The point was simply that many who talk about the economy avoid the bigger question of what kind of society we want. I don't even know what restrictions or issues in female employment strike you as particularly inefficient.

I've seen plenty of American mothers return to work four weeks after giving birth. They don't really have a choice, do they? And the large number of retirees working at Wal-Mart aren't forced to work either. They could just quit taking medicines or going to doctors. In any case, I think Japan should carefully consider whether European countries might be a better model than continuing down the American one.