Household Analogy Revisited: How do Japanese People Respond to Government Borrowing and Assets?

16 May 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


`Household analogy' is a form of rhetoric that equates the government budget with a household one and is typically used to advocate fiscal consolidation through the emphasis on the threat of bankruptcy. The present paper sets its context in Japan and extends the survey experiment conducted by Barnes and Hicks (2021), which found the household analogy in the UK to be ineffective in persuading the public. Our results replicated their null findings in Japan. Additionally, we tested whether the household analogy helps persuasion in the opposite direction, to reduce concerns for government borrowing through the emphasis on the plentiful assets owned by the Japanese government, and found no evidence to support such a claim. Subgroup analyses suggested that advocating fiscal consolidation is more successful among those who endorse the analogy and women, but the explicit reference to the household does not increase the persuasiveness of the messages for these subgroups.


household analogy
government debts and assets
survey experiment


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