In this paper we document the main features of the distributions of wages, earnings, consumption and wealth in Japan since the early 1980s using four main data sources: the Basic Survey on Wage Structure (BSWS), the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), the National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure (NSFIE) and the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (JPSC). We present an empirical analysis of inequality that specifically considers the path from individual wages and earnings, to household earnings, after-tax income, and finally consumption. We find that household earnings inequality rose substantially over this period. Inequality in disposable income and in consumption also rose over this period but to a lesser extent, suggesting taxes and transfers as well as insurance channels available to households help to insulate household consumption from shocks to wages. We find the same pattern in inequality trends when we look over the life cycle of households as we do over time in the economy. Additionally we find that there are notable differences in the inequality trends for wages and hours between men and women over this period. Keywords: inequality trends; life-cycle inequality; wage dynamics.
D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
D91: Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
E23: Macroeconomics: Production