Health Care Issues in the United States and Japan
Health Care Issues in the United States and Japan, an NBER Conference Report edited by David A. Wise and Naohiro Yashiro, is available from the University of Chicago Press for $65.00. Wise directs the NBER's Program of Research on Aging and is the John F. Stambaugh Professor of Political Economy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Yashiro is affiliated with the Japan Center for Economic Research and International Christian University.
Recent data show wide disparity in the effectiveness of the health care systems of Japan and the United States. Japan spends close to the lowest percentage among OECD countries of its gross domestic product on health care, the United States spends the highest percentage, and yet life expectancies in Japan are among the world's longest. Clearly, there is much to be learned from a comprehensive comparative analysis of health care issues in these two countries.
In Health Care Issues in the United States and Japan, contributors explore the structural characteristics of the health care systems in both nations, the economic incentives underlying the systems, and how they operate in practice. Japan's system, they show, is characterized by generous insurance schemes, a lack of gatekeepers, and fee-for-service mechanisms. The U. S. structure, on the other hand, is distinguished by for-profit hospitals, privatized health insurance, and managed care. But despite its relative success, an aging population and a general shift from infectious diseases to more chronic maladies are forcing the Japanese to consider a model more closely resembling that of the United States. In an age when rising health care costs and aging populations are motivating reforms throughout the world, this timely study will prove invaluable.
Monetary Policy with Very Low Inflation in the Pacific Rim
Monetary Policy with Very Low Inflation in the Pacific Rim, an NBER-East Asia Seminar on Economics volume edited by Takatoshi Ito and Andrew K. Rose, is available from the University of Chicago Press for $85.00.
Extremely low inflation rates have moved to the forefront of monetary policy discussions. In Asia, a number of countries -- most prominently Japan, but also Taiwan and China -- have actually experienced deflation over the last fifteen years. This conference volume explores the factors that have contributed to these circumstances and forecasts some of the potential challenges faced by these nations.
The editors of this volume attribute low inflation and deflation in the region to a number of recent phenomena. Some of these episodes, they argue, may be linked to rapid growth on the supply side of economies. Others are due to inadequate demand policy, sometimes resulting in a "liquidity trap." In such a trap, nominal interest rates hit a "zero-lower bound" so that conventional loosening of monetary policy is ineffective. The expectation of falling prices can encourage agents to defer costly purchases, thereby discouraging growth. The current practice of inflation-targeting may make this phenomenon possible if inflation targets are set quite low, so that a few bad shocks lead to deflation.Ito and Rose are NBER Research Associates in the Program on International Finance and Macroeconomics. Ito is also a professor of economics at the University of Tokyo. Rose is a professor of economics at The Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.