Dr. Yumiko Shimabukuro's core research and teaching interests lie in the areas of comparative political economy and social welfare policy with a regional expertise in Northeast Asia. She is the Director of the Urban and Social Policy concentration for the Executive MPA program and an Associate in Research at the Harvard Reischauer Institute and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.
Professor Shimabukuro received an MIA in International Economics from Columbia University, a PhD in Political Economy from the Department of Political Science at MIT, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from Harvard University. She is the recipient of the Harvard Teaching Excellence Award and the Columbia University-SIPA Outstanding Teaching Award.
Dr. Shimabukuro’s research on economic and social welfare developments in East Asia over the last decade has culminated in From Miracle to Misery: The Pitfalls of Social Investment and the Political Economy of Productivism (w/ A.J. Lukauskas). This body of research examines the wide range of social problems currently plaguing the region: acute and persistent old age poverty, rising prices that threaten housing affordability, stagnant wages, increasing inequality, and climbing incidents of child maltreatment. Why are countries with highly successful economies experiencing such serious social welfare problems? From Miracle to Misery analyzes this perplexing question in an innovative way by blending interdisciplinary research and extensive data with powerful narratives of how public policy shapes people’s lives. What it finds strikes a raw nerve. The roots of the social crises plaguing these countries partly lie in the very means used to achieve their exceptional economic success. It illuminates the risks of maintaining an extreme imbalance between growth and social protection strategies and brings East Asia into the furious debates that currently are rocking the United States and other advanced industrialized countries.
Dr. Shimabukuro is currently completing a manuscript entitled Building an Inegalitarian Welfare State: The Impact of Dualistic Coordinated Capitalism & Elite-Made Democracy in Japan that analyzes how the country's pursuit of a modern capitalist democracy over the course of a century generated conditions inimical to the development of a safety net. It amends the varieties of capitalism approach and employs the new research agenda developed by "the historical turn in democratization studies" to explain the institutional co-evolution of markets, politics, and the welfare states in Japan and beyond. Her article-length papers address the issues of industrial relations, the social policy preferences of business and organized labor, and the redistributive politics of disadvantaged groups. Shimabukuro’s research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, the Association of Asian Studies, and the Center for International Studies at MIT, among others.