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Understanding Japan's Saving Rate: The Reconstruction Hypothesis

Quarterly Review 1322 | Spring 1989

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Understanding Japan's Saving Rate: The Reconstruction Hypothesis


This paper evaluates Hayashi's conjecture that Japan's postwar saving experience can be accounted for by the neoclassical model of economic growth as that country's efforts to reconstruct its capital stock that was severely damaged in World War II. I call this the reconstruction hypothesis. I take a simplified version of a standard neoclassical growth model that is in widespread use in macroeconomics and simulate its response to capital destruction. The saving rate path implied by the model differs significantly from the path taken by actual Japanese postwar saving data. I discuss several model modifications which would reconcile the reconstruction hypothesis with Japan's postwar saving experience. For the reconstruction hypothesis to be credible requires independent evidence on the empirical plausibility of the model modifications. It is left to future research to determine whether that evidence exists.