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Economic Growth and Intergenerational Change in Japan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Nobutaka Ike*
Stanford University


This article seeks to apply the hypotheses and findings presented by Ronald Inglehart in his “The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change in Post-Industrial Societies,” to the Japanese scene. Inglehart argued that affluence had produced changes in value priorities in Western Europe: the older generation has acquisitive values, while the younger age groups have postbourgeois values. An analysis of Japanese data collected by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in four national surveys in 1953, 1958, 1963, and 1968 suggests that value changes in Japan produced by rapid economic growth may be somewhat different. Three types of change were found, namely intergenerational, life-cycle, and adult. Compared to its elders, the younger generation is less acquisitive, more democratic, and somewhat more inclined to value freedom. The most important value change, however, appears to be intergenerational change from collectivity orientation toward individuation. It is suggested that individuation has led to a tendency toward privatization and less concern for the electoral process on the part of youth. Whether or not this is a temporary phenomenon is not clear.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1973

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1 Inglehart, Ronald, “The Silent Revolution in Europe: Intergenerational Change in Post-Industrial Societies,” American Political Science Review, 65 (December, 1971), 9911017 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Inglehart, p. 991.

3 Inglehart, p. 991.

4 Inglehart, p. 991.

5 Inglehart, p. 991–992.

6 Inglehart, p. 992.

7 Inglehart, p. 999–1000.

8 Inglehart, p. 993.

9 The national character survey data cited in this article were drawn from Kenkyujo, Tokei Suri, Nihonjin no Kokumin-sei (Tokyo: 1961)Google Scholar and Dai-2 Nihonjin no Kokumin-sei (Tokyo, 1970)Google Scholar. For the 1968 national survey a sample of 4,000 respondents was drawn. Metropolitan, urban, and rural areas were stratified in terms of population, region, and occupation. One election district was chosen from each of the areas, the probability of selection being proportionate to the size of the population. Respondents were chosen on a random basis from voter lists, with the size of the sample proportionate to the size of the population. From the 4,000 in the sample, 3,033 interviews were completed. The size of the sample for the four surveys according to age groups is given below. Two sets of figures are given for the 1958 survey. For Tables 1–5, use figures in the lower row; and for Tables 8–9 and 12–13 take the total of both rows.

10 Inglehart, p. 1013.

11 Inglehart, p. 1005.

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