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Osamu Saito BA MA DEcon

Osamu Saito BA MA DEcon

Visiting Leverhulme Professor, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure

Economic and population historian. My main research field is Japan, c.1700-1940, but my interests also lie in comparative studies with Europe and other parts of Asia.



  • 1970-1982: Keio University
    • 1976-1978: Visiting research associate, ESRC Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure
  • 1982-2009: Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University
    • 1993-1994: Visiting research associate, ESRC Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure
  • 2009- : Professor Emeritus, Hitotsubashi University


  • BA, MA, DEcon (all Keio)


I have been working in both economic and population history of Japan in comparative perspective, except for a very short period in the 1970s when I worked at the Cambridge Group on England's labour force participation in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Comparative History of Occupational Structure. This is a research project Leigh Shaw-Taylor and I have been conducting for the past several years. Following a series of conferences we had, Leigh and I are now editing a book, to which I will contribute a chapter on Japan's historical occupational structure drawing on the research I have been doing with Tokihiko Settsu (Hi-Stat). I will also write a couple of thematic chapters for the book based on the submitted country papers, focusing on such themes as 'by-employment and sectoral labour productivity differentials' and 'changing occupational structure in economic development'.

Women's employment. I am also involved in several other projects. First, I am working on women's occupations in England with Shaw-Taylor, Amy Erickson, Jacob Field, and Chiaki Yamamoto, which brings me back to the research I did 30 years ago.

Farm Household Survey panel data. Since my major research interest has long been in the issue of work patterns in household context, I am also doing research on the quantification of interactions between family members within the farm household. This project features the construction of a Japanese Farm Household Survey panel database (at Hi-Stat) and the use of a methodology for micro-data analysis. At the moment I am working with its test sample, focusing on hours actually worked by farm women between 1931 and 1941.

The Great Divergence: a Japanese perspective. Finally, I am interested in the recent debate on Ken Pomeranz, The Great Divergence (2000). My approach to this topic is to use not just real wages but household income as a key measurement for comparison. The issues of factor markets, not just commodity markets, will also be discussed explicitly, which allow us to investigate into the relationships between structural divergence, on the one hand, and convergence and divergence in living standards, on the other, in the early modern period. These will be the themes of my Leverhulme Lectures.


Selected publications

  • Saito, O., 'Forest history and the Great Divergence: China, Japan and the West compared', Journal of global history, vol.4 (2009), pp.379-404.
  • Saito, O., 'Land, labour and market forces in Tokugawa Japan', Continuity and change, vol.24 (2009), pp.169-96.
  • Saito, O., 'Who worked when: life-time profiles of labour force participation in Cardington and Corfe Castle in the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries', in N. Goose, ed., Women's work in industrial England: regional and local perspectives (Hatfield, 2007), pp.209-27 [originally published in Local population studies, no.22, 1979, pp.14-29].
  • Saito, O., and K. Hamano, 'The death of the partner, remarriage and family continuation in Tokugawa Japan: a village study', Revista de Demografia Histórica, vol.24 (2006), pp.155-78.
  • Saito, O., 'The third pattern of marriage and remarriage: Japan in Eurasian comparative perspectives', in T. Engelen and A.P. Wolf, eds., Marriage and the family in Eurasia. Perspectives on the Hajnal hypothesis (Amsterdam: 2005), pp.165-94.
  • Saito, O., 'Wages, inequality and pre-industrial growth in Japan, 1727-1894', in R. Allen et al., eds., Living standards in the past: new perspectives on well-being in Asia and Europe (Oxford, 2005), pp.77-97.
  • Saito, O., 'The frequency of famines as demographic correctives in the Japanese past', in T. Dyson and C. Ó Gráda, eds., Famine demography: perspectives from the past and present (Oxford, 2002), pp.218-39.
  • Saito, O., 'Marriage, family labour and the stem family household: traditional Japan in a comparative perspective', Continuity and change, vol.15 (2000), pp.17-45.
  • Saito, O., 'Two kinds of stem family system? Traditional Japan and Europe compared', Continuity and change, vol.13 (1998), pp.167-86.
  • Saito, O., 'Infant mortality in pre-transiton Japan: levels and trends', in A. Bideau, B. Desjardins and H. Pérez-Brignoli, eds., Infant and child mortality in the past (Oxford, 1997), pp.135-53.
  • Saito, O., 'Gender, workload and agricultural progress: Japan's historical experience in perspective', in R. Leboutte, ed., Proto-industrialization: recent research and new perspectives. In memory of Franklin Mendels (Geneva,1996), pp.129-51.
  • Saito, O., 'Children's work, industrialism and the family economy in Japan, 1872-1926', in H. Cunningham and P.P. Viazzo, eds., Child labour in historical perspective, 1800-1985 (Florence, 1996), pp.73-90.
  • Abé, T., and O. Saito, 'From putting-out to the factory: a cotton-weaving district in late-Meiji Japan', Textile history, vol.19 (1988), pp.143-58
  • Saito, O., 'Population and the peasant family economy in proto-industrial Japan', with 'A note on household size in a Japanese proto-industrial region: Suwa County in the nineteenth century', Journal of family history, vol.8 (1983), pp.30-54.
  • Saito, O., 'Labour supply behaviour of the poor in the English industrial revolution', Journal of European economic history, vol.10 (1981), pp.633-52.
  • Saito, O., 'Occupational structure, wages, and age patterns of female labour force participation in England and Wales in the nineteenth century', Keio economic studies, vol.16 (1979), pp.17-29.
  • Saito, O., 'The labor market in Tokugawa Japan: wage differentials and the real wage level, 1727-1830', Explorations in economic history, vol.15 (1978), pp.84-100.

External activities

  • Joint organiser of the International Network for the Comparative History of Occupational Structure (INCHOS)
  • Research Associate of the Global COE Research Unit for Statistical Analysis in Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University (Hi-Stat)