Effects of Japan National Railways' Privatization on labor productivity

Fumitoshi Mizutani, Kiyoshi Nakamura

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Japan National Railways went private in 1987, the first of many national railways to do so, and the Japanese experience could provide lessons to other nations. This paper evaluates the effects of Japan National Railways' Privatization on labor productivity and employment in the passenger sectors. The main data was obtained from the Annual Rail Statistics of both the Ministry of Transport and Japan National Railways. Quantitative methods such as labor productivity models were used to evaluate the effects of privatization. Large private railways, which are considered the most efficient railways in Japan, are often compared to privatized Japan Railways. Major findings are as follows: First, Japan Railways still have 20% more employees than large private railways. Second, current productivity differences between Japan Railways and large private railways appear in station and maintenance activities. Third, reduction in employment during the transitional periods of privatization greatly contributed to increases in the productivity of Japan Railways. Fourth, it is not clear whether or not productivity differences among regional Japan Railways have been decreasing since privatization. Finally, the effect of privatization on productivity growth was about 29%. Moreover, even if productivity increases, safety is not compromised, with serious accidents clearly being unrelated to productivity growth.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-199
    Number of pages23
    JournalPapers in Regional Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1996 Apr

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Geography, Planning and Development


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