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Farmers as Workers in Japan's Regional Economic Restructuring, 1965-1985

Mary G. McDonald
Economic Geography
Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jan., 1996), pp. 49-72
Published by: Clark University
DOI: 10.2307/144502
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/144502
Page Count: 24
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Farmers as Workers in Japan's Regional Economic Restructuring, 1965-1985
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Abstract

Individuals living in farm households who commute to wage employment make up an important portion of Japan's "nonfarm" workers. This study examines their growing numbers and the regional and sectoral trends in their off-farm jobs, to argue that farms have been more involved in recent macroeconomic growth than is commonly acknowledged. In the 20 years between 1965 and 1985, individuals living on farms filled new manufacturing jobs in the regions outside the Tokaido urban-industrial belt. State subsidies for farm families' agricultural production have been generous, but have paid mainly for farm mechanization, which in turn has allowed and required farm residents to seek off-farm income. Regional policy has directed industrial plants to locate in farming regions, both to provide jobs to farmers and to provide workers to industries. To the extent that farm subsidies have partly supported rural households while enabling members to accept low-wage jobs in machinery manufacturing, farm subsidies have provided labor-cost advantages to the leading firms and industries in this period of restructuring. When farm households are viewed in this larger context of their off-farm employment, they have not fallen outside the loop of national economic growth in recent years, but have remained integral to that growth.

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