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The Growth IdeaPurpose and Prosperity in Postwar Japan$
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Scott O'Bryan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832827

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832827.001.0001

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Structural Ills and Growth Cures

Structural Ills and Growth Cures

(p.144) Chapter 5 Structural Ills and Growth Cures
The Growth Idea

Scott O’Bryan

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the ways in which public economists leveraged the postwar ideal of full employment to argue that a macroeconomic focus on rapid domestic growth could finally overcome structural inequality and what they believed to be Japan’s age-old population problem. The perceived dilemma of “surplus population” had long vexed national leaders and ideologues during the modern period. In postwar Japan, public economists sought to address this “population problem” using assumptions and concepts taken from the new economics by calling for a more expansive goal of rapid “economic growth.” This chapter first considers the idea that a national mobilization for macroeconomic growth could serve as an internal postwar solution to the perennial national problems of population, unemployment, and “backwardness.” It then discusses the suggestion that new kinds of private consumption might also have their place in the Japanese economy of growth, based on a vision of progress in which consumers would play a new role in ensuring national economic welfare.

Keywords:   full employment, growth, structural inequality, population problem, surplus population, postwar Japan, economic growth, macroeconomic growth, unemployment, consumption

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