Until the 1990s, I was largely concerned with theoretical research on international capital flows, macroeconomic dynamics and multiple equilibria under imperfect information, and various other topics, studies that have been published in academic journals such as the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of the Japanese and International Economies. Since then, I have focused on empirical research in the fields of historical statistics, productivity, and international economics. Examples of studies in these areas include: (1) Fukao, Ma and Yuan (2006), which directly estimated purchasing power parities for Japan, Korea, and Taiwan in the 1930s using data for that period and compared the per capita GDP of all three countries; (2) Fukao and Kwon (2006), which involved a supply-side analysis of Japan’s economic stagnation during the 1990s; and (3) Fukao, Ishido, and Ito (2003), which analyzed trade patterns using detailed trade data and showed that intra-industry trade accompanying the vertical division of labor increased rapidly in East Asia during the 1990s as a result of foreign direct investment, especially in the electrical machinery industry.
Current research projects
My current research focuses primarily on three areas. The first involves the measurements and determinants of Japan’s total factor productivity at the macro, industry, and firm levels. I am also conducting a comparative study of productivity in cooperation with researchers at various universities and economic ministries in other countries. In particular, I am interested in elucidating the influence of process and product innovation on productivity, the economic effects of mergers and acquisitions, international comparisons of service-sector productivity, and the determinants of plant-level productivity such as location and intangible assets. The second area of research is international economics. Topics include Japan’s inward and outward foreign direct investment, the international division of labor in East Asia, China’s economic development, and so on. I am particularly interested in differences in the factor contents of traded goods classified as the same commodity but with different unit prices, the impact of inward foreign direct investment in Japan, and the sustainability of China’s economic growth. The third area of research involves historical statistical analyses on prices, trade, and regional economies, including, for example, the measurement of real wages from the middle ages until the present, prefectural GDP estimates from the early Meiji period onward, and so on.