Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo
Transformation of Employment Structure and Social Inequality in the Post-industrial Countries: A Comparison of Japan, South Korea, and the United States

Until recently, industrialized East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea were believed to be relatively alien to social inequality by virtue of having achieved a balanced economic distribution in an era of industrialization. However, recent years have witnessed the emergence of increasing social inequality as a serious social problem in these countries, similar to the case of the United States. Is social inequality widening abruptly in these countries with their entry into the post-industrial era? If this is the case, what are the kinds of inequalities that are currently on the rise and what are the reasons for their increase? This project aims to answer the above questions by empirically examining the effects that changes in employment structure, caused by globalization and de-industrialization, have on social inequality. The recent transformation of the employment structure has affected social inequality because of two kinds of factors: universal factors, such as globalization and e-industrialization, and local factors, such as employment practices and labor market structures. This project adopts a comparative approach in order to fully understand the effects of both universal and local factors on the social inequality in these countries. A comparison of Japan and Korea with the United States, which is the comparative perspective employed in this project, will work well for the purpose. This is because the United States has an entirely different social ontext from those in Asian countries, while it is similar to them in terms of the extent of globalization and de-industrialization. The project attempts to examine the following research questions: 1) How is the structure of employment opportunities changing with de-industrialization and globalization? 2) How is the inequality in employment opportunities related to the personal attributes of employees?