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IER History

The Institute of Economic Research (henceforth, IER) at Hitotsubashi University was originally called the Research Institute of East Asia Economies, which was founded in the library of Tokyo College of Commerce on April 01, 1940.  It was not a government organization at that time, but an institute affiliated with the university and supported by a research grant from Kenkichi Kagami, the president of Tokyo Marine and Fire Insurance.  The institute’s first head was Teijiro Ueda, president of the Tokyo Shoka University. 

Dr. Tsuru, the IERʼs head, explained the plan for reorganization of the institute in Conceptions of the Institute of Economic Research (1949) as follows: “The most important research topic is ‘National Income and Reproduction’ because it contains theoretical, statistical, empirical, and policy-oriented aspects.  It is also advantageous to research this topic collaboratively, so that many researchers would try to involve themselves in this subject.  Other research topics will include statistics, econometrics, and the American and Soviet economies.  We will also value and pursue research on classical economic theories.  Later, the Japanese economy was added as a research subject, and statistical and empirical research on Japanese economy, national income, and processes of economic growth, as well as research on the socialist economies of the USSR and China, became prominent in the academic world.  In 1957, the Study Group on National Income Estimates was launched with Kazushi Ohkawa as its leader, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.  All the results of this study group’s work were collected in the fourteen volumes of Long-Term Economic Statistics (edited by Kazushi Ohkawa, Miyohei Shinohara, and Mataji Umemura, 1965-1988). 

In addition to the five research departments (American Economy, USSR Economy, National Income and Reproduction, Statistics, and Classical Economics) that were present at the inception of the reorganized IER, a Japanese Economy department was added in the following year.  Later, this department was divided into two parts and three more departments-British and British Commonwealth Economies, Chinese Economy, and Southeast Asian Economy-were added to make a total of nine departments.  In 1961, the institute added the department of International Economy, and the departments of Economic Measurement, Economic System, Financial Economics, and Modern Economic Analysis were subsequently added by 1977 to raise the number of departments to fourteen.  However, with the revision of ministerial ordinances, the institute was reduced to five large research sections during 1978 and 1979: (1) Japanese and Asian Economies; (2) U.S., European and USSR Economies; (3) Contemporary Economies; (4) Comparative Economic Systems; and (5) Economic Systems Analysis. In April 2015, the institute implemented a significant revision of its research structure since 1979 in response to the current academic trends in economic research. The new research structure of the institute includes the Research Division of Theories in Economics and Statistics, the Research Division of Economic Measurement and Statistics, the Research Division of Comparative and World Economics, the Research Division of Economic Institutions and Policy, and the Research Division of Frontier Sciences in Economics. This dramatic organizational reform will enrich the IER and make it a more powerful and distinctive research institute.

It has been the institute’s regular practice to conduct collaborative research and projects with partners outside the institute and its departments.  Although there has been no further organizational change since the institute’s restructuring into five departments, the Center for Economic Institutions was established in 2000, and it has contributed toward expanding the institute’s network of relationships with researchers and institutions both domestically and internationally.  The Center for Statistical Literature on the Japanese Economy, established in 1964, became the Research Center for Information and Statistics of Social Science, with a new section for microdata analysis, as part of the extension and reorganization of the institute in 2002. It provides microdata on government statistics in collaboration with the Statistics Bureau in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.  In 2007, the Center for Intergenerational Studies was founded, pursuing the formation of a cutting-edge research base by collaborating with four Ministries.  Furthermore, the Research Center for Economic and Social Risks was established in May 2014 for the purpose of conducting empirical analysis of various risks that the Japanese economy may face.  This center publishes the SRI -Hitotsubashi Consumer Purchase Index on its website. 

Based on the tradition of Long-Term Economic Statistics as the institute’s chef dʼoeuvre, from 1995 to 2000 the Asian Historical Statistics Project was organized.  Other projects included “Expanding Usages of Statistical Information” from 1996 to 1999 (supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas) and the “Project on Intergenerational Equity” from 2000 to 2005.  From 2003 to 2007, two 21st-Century Center of Excellence (COE) programs entitled “Research Unit for Statistical Analysis in the Social Sciences” and “Normative Evaluation and Social Choice of Contemporary Economic Systems” were launched, as well as a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Creative Scientific Research called “Understanding the Inflation Dynamics in the Japanese Economy” and “Economic Analysis of Intergenerational Issues: Searching for Future Development,” were supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Specially Promoted Research.  These are projects that became possible by the reinforcement of theoretical research, emphasis on policy-oriented perspectives, and promotion of institutional and policy research that comprises the synergistic effects of integrating theoretical and empirical research activities, which were put in place after the publication of the article “History and Future” in the thirtieth anniversary edition of the journal Economic Research in 1980.  Through the integration and further development of the two COE programs, a global COE entitled “Research Unit for Statistical and Empirical Analysis in Social Sciences” was also promoted.  

Just before the beginning of the 21st century, IER added new missions, promoting original and cutting-edge research and establishing a joint research unit for members of the research community both within and outside Japan, in addition to continuing its comprehensive economic research on Japan and the world.  In 2010, the IER was designated as a “Research Unit for Empirical Analysis of the Japanese and World Economy” by the Joint Usage/Research Center system in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology; since then it has been establishing a foundation for a joint usage research center, with joint research projects and facilities as its core.  

EconomicReview.JPG EconomicResearchSeries.JPG LTES.jpg
the Economic Review,
the first volume,
Iwanami Shoten, 1955.
Economic Research Series,
Iwanami Shoten,
Long Term Economic Statistics (LTES),
Iwanami Shoten, 1974-1979
(14 volumes in total)
(received the 32th Nikkei Prize for
Excellent Books in Economic Science,