Long-term Trends in Inter-generational Class Mobility in Japan
This presentation examines change and stability in the pattern of inter-generational class mobility in Japan in the late 20th century and early 21st century. The analysis examines the trends in social fluidity. Japanese economy experienced high-speed growth in the 1960s and early 1970s, followed by a recession and sustained economic growth until early 1990s when serious recession hit the country. By 2005, the country slowly moved out of the phase of recession. Despite these fluctuations in the economy, there seems to be stability in the pattern of association between class origin and class destination. There is no clear tendency towards greater openness in post-war Japan, contrary to the prediction of the industrialism thesis. Our results are not consistent with the post-industrial rigidity hypothesis either. There was no clear tendency of increasing inter-generational rigidity in the 1990s and 2000s. The results of trend analyses are consistent with the stability hypothesis which predicted that the strength and pattern of association between class origin and class destination remain stable in industrial societies. Finally, our cross-national comparison suggests that the Japanese relative mobility pattern is not exceptional and that Japan is not a particularly open or closed society compared to other industrial nations. Taking the results of absolute and relative mobility rates altogether, we arrive at the following conclusion: the Japanese postwar mobility experience can be understood as the combination of rapidly changing absolute rates at a time of fast economic growth and remarkably stable relative mobility rates throughout the seventy-year postwar period.