International City Profile: Tokyo

How does income inequality affect a city?

(I accidentally deleted my introduction; which includes a local and international perspective of Japan and an explanation of the maps below.)

The AFP reports that Tokyo is home to many living below the poverty line, with the numbers approaching an "astonishing one in six; or (in Japan) more than 21 million people in a country of 128 million."

An unnoticed fact is that the most affected citizens in Tokyo are single women, the unemployed and the elderly.

Just like any other place with severe income inequality, there has been an increase in crime within pensioners because they knew that they would be taken well care of in prison. To think that one's situation is so dire that they would need to commit crime on purpose is truly saddening.

An interesting article that I read was about unemployment and poverty in Japan:"Fourth, Japan has an ageing population, with more aged people and fewer young people. Income differentials among the aged are normally high. In particular, the income level of older widows is distinctively low because of their very low pension benefits. If the share of the aged in the total population was higher, wider income differentials would be expected. Another feature of the aging trend is that the share of senior employees approaching retirement age is also increasing. These employees receive relatively higher wages because of the seniority-based wage principle, although its significance has waned to a certain extent. These two features—widening income differentials among the aged and relatively higher wages for senior employees—when combined are one of the factors responsible for higher income inequality.

Surprisingly, it was very hard to find gini coefficients for Tokyo, maybe because it was too specific. Therefore, I had to resolve to using gini coefficients of Japan over the years; which would've decreased the accuracy of the data because the whole of Japan is very different from Tokyo itself.

The first graph is a comparison of gini coefficients in selected countries; and are split into two sections: advanced economies and emerging market economies. It's an interesting graph to consider because all the advances economies are steady with only a small noticeable increase; whereas the emerging market economies are all over the place. I can deduct that Japan has had the same gini coefficient as Brazil when it was an emerging market economy; but now that it is developing at a steady pace; it's gini coefficient has also "calmed down" and is now nearly stable. The second graph is the gini coefficient index in households from 1967-2010. There is an obvious steady increase over the years. When comparing the two graphs together, I've learned that the values of the axis contribute a lot to what the view perceives. In the one above, one would think that the gini coefficient is steady; but in the one below, one would think that it's increasing rather rapidly. Therefore, it is always good to have more than one graph so you can evaluate your sources.

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