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Graduate School of Economics,
Research on Economy and Disability
The University of Tokyo,
Japanese society is said to be composed of homogenous members. However, there are people who cannot be “ordinary Japanese”, including six and a half million disabled people.
The purpose of this research project is to develop a new field of study on barriers in socio-economic contexts by introducing economics into disability studies. The disability studies started in the United Kingdom in 1970’s as an interdiciplinery field of research, to which political science, history, and a field of sociology have contributed. They differentiate physical impairments and socially constructed disabilities to address the problems of disabilities as social outputs.
An economic viewpoint is essential for understanding and coping with the disability problems. Economics have developed tool to study customs and institutions as endogenous outcomes of economies. Economists investigate human behavior, shedding light on incentives and their interdependence. In particular, game theory is useful for this purpose. With these theoretical methods we study the disabilities as endogenous institutions. Furthermore, solving incentives of individuals, we investigate effective policies for the disability problems.
For social aspects of the disability problems, we conduct empirical researches by history, institution analysis, econometric research, and economic experiments. The socio-economic model logically links these social and economic aspects and lead to a new field of social science.
A long term scope of this project will not be confined to disabled people. There is always a possibility that some barriers creep in our society and cause troubles for “ordinary Japanese”. Our research is oriented toward a more comfortable society for all of us to live in.