Are Japanese Households Financially Healthy, and If so, Why? A Group of Seven (G7) Comparison
Charles Yuji Horioka
University of the Philippines, Diliman; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Osaka University - Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)
November 27, 2012
The Japanese Economy, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2012
ISER Discussion Paper No. 859
In this paper, I conduct an international comparison of the financial health of households using data on household wealth and indebtedness for the Group of Seven (G7) countries and show that, even though household borrowings in Japan were the highest among the G7 countries, at least until 2000, household assets were also high in Japan, as a result of which household net worth and financial health in Japan were among the highest in the G7 countries. Turning to long-term trends in Japan over time, I find that Japan has shown a sharp increase over time in household borrowing, at least until 2000, and a sharp increase over time in both household assets and household net worth, at least until 1990. It is not clear whether the greater financial health of Japanese households is due more to culture or to government policies, institutions, and other non-cultural factors, but it appears that long-term trends over time in household assets, liabilities, and net worth in Japan can be explained much better by non-cultural factors than by culture.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: financial health, households, balance sheets, liabilities, consumer credit, consumer loans, consumer finance, personal finance, indebtedness, housing loans, mortgages, borrowing, assets, financial assets, housing assets, net worth, net wealth, saving, frugality, culture, religion, tradition
JEL Classification: D12, D14, D91, E21
Date posted: December 3, 2012
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