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2017-01-17

海外関連法人からの新株引受 有利発行と認定−東京高裁

海外関連法人からの新株引受 有利発行と認定−東京高裁


報道によると、大手商社神鋼商事が増額更正処分の取消しを求めた控訴審で、東京高裁は一審を支持し、請求棄却した。同社は平成19年にタイの関連法人が増資に伴い発行した新株を額面価額で引き受け、払込金額を本件株式の取得価額に計上して申告したが、原処分庁は本件株式が有利発行有価証券に該当し、払込価額との差額は受贈益として益金に算入すべきとした。

法人税法施行令は、有利発行で取得した新株の取得価額は時価をもって認識する旨定めているが「他の株主等に損害を及ぼすおそれがないと認められる場合」は除くとされる。法基通2−3−8はこれを、株式の内容及び数に応じて株式又は新株予約権が平等に与えられ、かつ内容の異なる株式を有する株主間でも衡平が保たれる場合としており、同社は本件がこれに該当すると主張。該当しなくても、株式すべてに対し株数に比例して新株が付与されたが、同社以外が行使しなかっただけで有利発行に対する課税対象から除かれるべき、とした。

高裁は、1)同社がかつて同社以外の株主は名義株に過ぎないと主張していた、2)実際には同社以外の株主株式は付与されなかった、3)同社保有株式が増資前の29%から増資後97%を占めるに至ったことから、処分は適法と判断した。



時価と払込価額の差額が受贈益として課税された事例

東京高判平成28年3月24日(神鋼商事事件)

1. 株式を時価よりも低い払込価額で引き受けた場合の課税関係

株式を時価よりも低い払込価額で引き受けた場合,引き受けた者は,時価と払込価額の差額の贈与を受けたことになります。例えば,株式の時価が100で払込価額が10とすると,100−10=90の贈与を受けたことになります。このため,原則として,株式の取得時に90の贈与を受けたものとして課税されます(受贈益課税)。この場合,既存株式の価値はそれだけ目減りするので,他の株主に損害が及びます。

もっとも,全ての株主株式を時価よりも低い払込価額で平等に引き受けた場合は,贈与を受けたことにはなりません。例えば,親会社が100%子会社株式を1株保有している場合,当該親会社が,時価が100で払込価額が10の株式を1株引き受けると,90の贈与を受けたようにもみえますが,1株当たりの時価は(100+10)/2=55となり,株式価値は(100−55)×2=90だけ目減りするので,結果として差し引きゼロです。従って,90の贈与を受けたものとして課税されることはありません。

このように全ての株主が平等に引き受ける場合など,他の株主に損害を及ぼすおそれがない場合は,受贈益課税は生じません。問題は,時価よりも低い払込価額で引き受けるのは株主の一部であるが,株式の内容が異なっているために,他の株主に損害を及ぼすおそれがないといえるか,はっきりしない場合です。

2. 第三者株主としての地位は貸付人のようなものと主張

本件では,納税者である日本の親会社が,実質的に49%の株式保有するタイの子会社から,時価よりも低い払込価額で株式を引き受けたため,納税者保有割合は実質的に98%になり,第三者保有割合は51%から2%に低下しました。

子会社株式譲渡取締役会の承認が条件とされていましたが,定款上は株式の内容について異なる定めはありませんでした。もっとも,子会社取締役会納税者意向に従うので,納税者株式自由譲渡できるが,第三者納税者が認める範囲内でしか譲渡できない,と納税者は主張しました。また,納税者第三者との間の株主間契約により,子会社を清算するような場合には納税者第三者株式を取得価額で買い取ることを保証しており,第三者配当受領権は子会社の業績に関係なく実質的に一定額とされていました。

つまり,第三者株主としての地位は,実質的には貸付人のような地位と同じで,元本の償還と一定の利息相当額を得ることは確保されているものの,譲渡益や利益配分を得ることは想定されていなかったといえます。そこで,納税者は,本件の株式引受けにより,第三者株主としての地位が実質的に影響を受けることはないため,他の株主に損害を及ぼすおそれはないと主張しました。

3. 他の株主に損害を及ぼすおそれはないとはいえない

この点,東京高裁は,株主間契約によって第三者が有する株式には差異が設けられてはいるが,実際には株主間契約どおりに実行されない場合もあるなど,その差異は,事実上のものであって,かつ,流動的なものであり,株式の内容となっていると解することはできないから,内容の異なる株式とはいえないと判示しました。

そして,本件の増資により,納税者のみが株式を引き受けた結果,納税者保有割合が実質49%から98%を占めるに至った以上,株主が有する株式の内容及び数に応じて株式が平等に与えられたとはいえず,本件の増資が他の株主に損害を及ぼすおそれがないとはいえないとしました。

納税者は,本件の増資においては,全ての株主に対し,その保有する株数に比例して新株を引き受ける権利が付与されたが,納税者以外の株主がその権利を行使しなかったことにより,結果的に納税者のみが新株を取得することになったに過ぎないと主張しました。しかし,東京高裁は,全ての株主に等しい割合で新株を引き受ける権利が付与されても,結果として,納税者以外の株主にも株式が平等に与えられることはなかったのであり,株主間の経済的な衡平も維持されなかったとして,納税者の主張を否定しました。

4. これからの税務コンプライアンス

このように,東京高裁は,株式の内容に違いがあるかどうかを客観的に検討し,他の株主との間の株主間契約により差異が設けられているような場合は,その契約通りに実行されているかどうかも勘案して,他の株主に損害を及ぼすおそれがないことを厳格に確認するアプローチを採用しました。

また,全ての株主株式を引き受ける権利が平等に付与されているだけでは損害を及ぼすおそれがないとはいえないとして,他の株主が損害が生じることに同意しているだけでは不十分であることを明らかにしました。

本件のように,日系企業海外進出するにあたり,現地の法規制の関係で,現地資本とのジョイントベンチャーとして海外子会社設立することはよくあります。その場合,株主間契約において,それぞれが保有する株式の内容に違いがあるように規定することも少なくありません。もっとも,契約当事者が主観的には株式の内容に違いがあると思っていたとしても,それが客観的な形式で明らかにされていなければ,本件のような受贈益課税がなされるリスクは高いといわざるをえません。もし保有割合の変更を目的としているのであれば,例えば他の株主から株式を買い取るなど,リスクの低い方法を検討するのが安全でしょう。

弁護士 北村豊

〒100-6027 東京都千代田区霞が関3-2-5霞が関ビルディング27階 EY弁護士法人

直通電話 03-3509-1668 | Fax 03-3509-1663

Email yutaka.kitamura@jp.ey.com

「グループ法人税制外し」と認定された事例

「グループ法人税制外し」と認定された事例

審判所裁決平成28年1月6日(グループ法人税制外し事件)

1.100%企業グループの内部取引から生じる損益を繰り延べる税制

グループ法人税制とは,100%の資本関係で結ばれた企業グループの内部で行われる一定の取引から生じる損益を繰り延べる税制をいいます。例えば,そのような企業グループ法人同士で不動産譲渡した場合,一般に,不動産譲渡から生じる損益は税務上繰り延べられ,その後,グループ外の者にその不動産転売した際に,初めて損益を認識することとされています。

100%の資本関係で結ばれた企業グループの関係を,完全支配関係といいます。グループ法人税制は,完全支配関係のある法人間の取引適用されます。これは,完全支配関係のある企業グループは一体となって取引を行うことが多いため,グループ法人の実態に即した課税を行う観点から,完全支配関係のあるグループ法人を一体とみて課税を行うという考え方に基づいています。

他方,完全支配関係がない法人間の取引については,形式的には,グループ法人税制は適用されません。もっとも,グループ法人税制の適用を免れるために,意図的に完全支配関係を外したような場合は,どのように税務上取り扱われるでしょうか? 本件では,まさにその点が問題となりました。

2.法人税の負担を不当に減少させる場合といえるか

本件では,同一の者により株式を100%保有されている納税者とその兄弟会社との間で,不動産譲渡しようとしました。納税者と兄弟会社との間に完全支配関係がありますので,グループ法人税制が適用されると,不動産譲渡から生じる損益は繰り延べられることになります。そこで,納税者は,完全支配関係を外すことにより,グループ法人税制の適用を免れて,譲渡から生じる損失を認識しようとしました。

具体的には,納税者の経理部長1人に対し株式を1%割り当てて,同一の者の持株割合を99%に下げて,形式的には完全支配関係がない状態にし,その上で兄弟会社に対する不動産譲渡を実行しました。そのため,このような場合にグループ法人税制の適用を免れることができるかが問題となりました。

本件の納税者のように,少数の株主によって支配されている同族会社においては,法人税の税負担を不当に減少させる行為又は計算が行われやすい傾向があります。そこで,税負担の公平を維持するため,法人税の負担を不当に減少させる行為又は計算が行われた場合は,税務署長は,これを正常な行為又は計算に引き直して課税できることとされています。本件では,その場合,上記の株式割当てがなかったものとして,グループ法人税制を適用できることになります。

3.経理部長1人に対する株式の割当ては経済的合理性を欠く

審判所は,法人税の負担を不当に減少させるか否かは,専ら経済的,実質的見地において同族会社の行為又は計算が純粋経済人として不合理,不自然なものと認められるかという客観的合理的基準に従って判断すべきとしました。即ち,同族会社の行為又は計算が客観的にみて経済的合理性を欠くか否かがポイントです。

本件において経理部長に割り当てられた株式の払込金額は,納税者の事業規模と比較すると僅かであり,資金調達の経済的効果はないに等しいものでした。本来,新株発行による増資は,企業活動に必要な資金の調達や財務基盤の強化を目的として行われますが,本件は,そのような目的の増資ではなかったといえます。

また,納税者には,約1,000名の従業員がいましたが,株式の割当てを受けたのは経理部長ただ1人でした。経理部長以外の従業員に対しては,その後も一切株式の割当てを行っておらず,そもそも株式の募集の周知もしていませんでした。そのため,従業員の士気を高揚する目的も否定されています。

結局,納税者の財産状況や経営状態等を具体的に検討して株式を割り当てたものではなく,経済的合理性を欠いているので,法人税の負担を不当に減少させるものとして株式割当てが否認され,グループ法人税制を適用すべきものとされました。

4.これからの税務コンプライアンス

納税者も,本件の株式割当てによりグループ法人税制の適用を免れることができるかどうか,事前に検討をしていたようです。そして,株式の払込金額については十分合理的な検討がされていると主張していました。

しかし,審判所は,株式の払込金額は,単に税務上問題とならなければよいとの観点から定められたものに過ぎず,経済的合理性観点から,納税者の財産状況や経営状態を具体的に検討した形跡は窺われないと一蹴しました。

最近,同族会社の行為又は計算については,法人税の負担を不当に減少させるものとして否認すべきかどうか,税務当局がこれまで以上に注視しているようです。従って,同族会社節税効果を念頭においた取引を行う場合は,その取引の経済的合理性客観的に説明できるか,より慎重に検討する必要があります。

その際,問題となる取引の対価のみに着目して,それが適正な対価かどうかを検討するだけでは足りず,同族会社の財産状況や経営状態を踏まえ,問題となる取引をその同族会社が実行することについて相応の経済的合理性があるかどうかを具体的に検証するのが望ましいでしょう。

<筆者プロフィール>

北村 豊(弁護士ニューヨーク州弁護士

EY弁護士法人パートナー。京都大学法科大学院非常勤講師(税法事例演習)(2010〜15年)。長島・大野・常松法律事務所(00〜09年),金融庁総務企画局政策課金融税制室課長補佐(09〜12年)を経て,13年にEY弁護士法人を創設。法務・税務・会計の専門家協働することにより付加価値の高いサービスを提供できる税務訴訟・審査請求税務調査対応に注力しています。なお,本メールは,筆者の個人的見解であり,筆者の属する組織の見解ではありません。

<筆者連絡先>

〒100-6027 東京都千代田区霞が関3-2-5霞が関ビルディング27階 EY弁護士法人

直通電話 03-3509-1668 | Fax 03-3509-1663

Email yutaka.kitamura@jp.ey.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2258908

2016-12-26 Big data and government China’s digital dictatorship

Leaders

Big data and government

China’s digital dictatorship

The Communist Party is experimenting with new means of social control

WHEN communism crumbled in the Soviet Union, 25 years ago this week, the Chinese Communist Party seemed to many to be heading irreversibly downwards. Yes, the tanks had left Tiananmen Square after crushing a revolt in 1989, but the war appeared lost. Even China’s breakneck growth, which took off a year after the Soviet collapse, looked likely only to tear the party further from its ideological bedrock. In 1998 President Bill Clinton intimated that he foresaw an inevitable democratic trajectory. He told his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, that China was “on the wrong side of history”.

Yet, while the West has suffered from the financial crisis and the fallout after a failed attempt to implant democracy in the Middle East, China’s Communist Party has clung on to its monopoly of power. Its leaders behave as if China will never have to undergo the democratic transformation that every rich country has passed through on the way to prosperity. Instead they seem to believe that the party can keep control―and some officials are betting that the way to do so lies in a new form of digital dictatorship.

A party apart

Under its leader, Xi Jinping, the party looks from the outside to be stronger than at any time in decades. Since Tiananmen, stale apparatchiks have been replaced by bright technocrats―and even entrepreneurs. Citizens enjoy freedoms unimaginable a generation ago―to do business, to travel abroad and to pursue freewheeling lives. Using Western techniques of public relations, the party reminds ordinary Chinese how everyone, thanks to mass consumerism, is having a jolly good time.

And yet the party is still profoundly insecure. During the past few years it has felt the need to impose a fierce clampdown on dissidents and their lawyers. It is bullying activists in Hong Kong who challenge its authority and is terrorising restless minorities. Rapid economic growth has created a huge new middle class who relish the opportunity to get rich, but who are also distrustful of everything around them: of officials who ride roughshod over property rights, of a state health-care system riddled with corruption, of businesses that routinely peddle shoddy goods, of an education system in which cheating is the norm and of people whose criminal and financial backgrounds are impossible to assess.

The party rightly worries that a society so lacking in trust is unstable. So it is experimenting with a striking remedy. It calls this a “social-credit system”. It says the idea is to harness digitally stored information to chivvy everyone into behaving more honestly, whether fly-by-night companies or tax- and fine-dodging individuals. That sounds fair enough. But the government also talks about this as a tool of “social management”: ie, controlling individuals’ behaviour. This is a regime that already tries to police how often people visit their parents. How much further could it go? Citizens’ ratings are to be linked with their identity-card numbers. Many fear that bad scores might result in sanctions, such as being denied a bank loan or permission to buy a railway ticket, even for political reasons. They have reason to worry. The government decreed this year that the system should record such vaguely defined sins as “assembling to disrupt social order”.

In the West, too, the puffs of data that people leave behind them as they go about their lives are being vacuumed up by companies such as Google and Facebook. Those with access to these data will know more about people than people know about themselves. But you can be fairly sure that the West will have rules―especially where the state is involved. In China, by contrast, the monitoring could result in a digital dystopia. Officials talk of creating a system that by 2020 will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

So far, the scheme is only experimental, in about 30 areas. The government itself seems unsure how far to take it. There has been much debate about how to ensure that citizens can challenge their ratings. Indeed, attempts to use the system to give the party more muscle are meeting opposition. Official media have reported misgivings about one experiment in which citizens visiting government offices to complain about miscarriages of justice were punished with poor scores. The media have even quoted critics comparing such tactics to the Japanese handing out “good citizen” certificates to trusted Chinese during the imperial army’s hated wartime occupation.

That the party has given publicity to such concerns suggests it may heed some of them. But it is just as likely that the experiments mark the beginning of something bigger and more sinister. They are of a piece with China’s deep-seated bureaucratic traditions of coercion and paternalism. The government feels that it has a right to intrude on citizens’ lives. Public resentment has made no difference to brutal, ill-judged efforts to dictate how many children families can have. Whenever Mr Xi is challenged, his instinct always seems to be to crack down. The routine succession of threats any government faces is more likely to lead to oppression than to a free, informed debate or a decision that the state should forsake the digital tools available.

Turn the spotlight on the rulers, not the ruled

Instead of rating citizens, the government should be allowing them to assess the way it rules. Vast digital systems are not needed for that. For all democracy’s weaknesses, the ballot box can still work. Too much to ask for in China, perhaps? Not if the government is to be taken at its word. Its outline of the social-credit scheme grandly calls for “complete systems to constrain and supervise the use of power” and steps to “broaden channels for public participation in government policymaking”. That sounds a lot like democracy.

Sadly, Mr Xi shows little interest in experiments of that kind. Witness the thugs who were recently deployed outside the home of a Beijing citizen who dared to try to stand in a local election without the party’s permission. Instead Mr Xi continues to develop digital tools and systems for controlling people. That will fuel anger and resentment towards the government. In the long run it will prove that Mr Clinton was right.

2016-12-25

2013-04-30

当然失期条項はレンダーに有利か

負債性(デット)の金融商品には、金銭消費貸借契約書や社債要項において、元利金の支払期限(弁済期)が定めてある。

「何かの事象が生じた場合、債務者は、元本全額について期限の利益を喪失する」といったように、借主の期限の利益を喪失させる事由(失期事由)が定めてある。

失期事由には、当然失期事由(それが生じたら当然に失期する事由。例えば、いずれかの利払日における利息の不払等。)と請求失期事由(それが生じて、かつ、債権者債権者に対して期限の利益を喪失させる旨の通知(失期通知)をした際に失期する事由。例えば、金銭債務以外の債務の不履行等。)とがある。

一般的に、デットの回収に重要な影響をおよぼす可能性がある事由を当然失期事由、そのほかデットの回収に何らかの影響をおよぼす可能性がある事由を請求失期事由に振り分けるが、このような振り分けが常に合理的である訳ではない。

「各利払日において債務者が利息の支払をしないこと」が当然失期事由になっている例では、

(1)債務者がある利払日において銀行のシステムエラー等の事由により利息の支払に失敗したが、翌営業日には支払が行われたようなケース

(2)債務者がある利払日において利息の支払に失敗したが、一回延滞があっても、債務者の信用力に問題がないため、債権者に当分の間取引を継続する意思があるようなケース

のいずれのケースにおいても、この条項によって失期が生じることになる。

もちろん、債権者債務者に対して遅延損害金を請求せず、元本全額の支払を請求しないといったように、運用によって失期が生じていない状態を作り出すことはできるが、このような債権者の対応は、(i)黙示の合意により期限の利益を再度付与したものとか、(ii)あらためて債権者債務者に期限の利益を喪失させる旨の意思を表示しない限り失期しない旨の宥恕(ユウジョ)である。

例えば、(2)のケースで、数ヵ月後にいよいよ債務者の信用力が悪化し、一回延滞があったことを理由に、債権者がいざデットを失期させようとしても、「黙示の合意によって期限の利益が再度付与された」とみなされて、失期させることができないおそれがある。

このように、何でも当然失期事由とすることは、債権者の運用によっては、請求失期事由とするよりも債権者にとって不利益となる場合がある。


「当然喪失」となる一定の事実とは、

’忙此民事再生手続開始、会社更生手続開始等の申立があったとき

⊆蠏糎魎構蠅亮莪停止処分を受けたとき

弁護士等へ債務整理を委任したとき、自ら営業の廃止を表明したときなど、支払を停止したと認められる事実が発生したとき、

「請求喪失」となる一定の事実とは、

債務者債務の履行を一部でも遅滞したとき

担保物件に対して差押または競売手続の開始があったとき

保証人について以上のような事実が生じたとき

国外財産調書制度

国税庁は4月18日、2012年度税制改正で創設された「国外財産調書制度」に関する法令解釈通達内国税の適正な課税の確保を図るための国外送金等に係る調書の提出等に関する法律(国外財産調書関係)の取扱い」(3月29日付)をHPに掲載。

国外財産の価額は、その年の12月31日における「時価」又は「見積価額」で評価することとされている。 その「時価」及び「見積価額」の意義が示される。(通達5−7)

国外財産調書に記載する国外財産は、(施行)規則別表第一において、以下の(一)から(十二)に区分される。(通達5−8)

(一) 土地

(二) 建物

(三) 山林

(四) 現金

(五) 預貯金

(六) 有価証券

(七) 貸付金

(八) 未収入金(受取手形を含む。)

(九) 書画骨とう及び美術工芸

(十) 貴金属類

(十一) (四)、(九)及び(十)に掲げる財産以外の動産

(十二) その他の財産

サプライチェ−ン・マネジメントと国際税務戦略

多国籍企業のサプライチェ−ンは、複数国の複数の関連会社を通じて行われている。関連会社間の製品やサ−ビスの取引価格は、移転価格税制の理論により、サプライチェ−ンに関与する各社の機能やリスク負担に応じて決定される。 多くの機能及びリスク負担の会社に、より多くの利益が配分される。

高い機能/リスクを低税率国に所在する関連会社に集約することが可能であれば、一連のサプライチェ−ンにより稼得した利益を、高税率国に所在している関係会社には少なく、低税率国に所在している関連会社には多く配分でき、結果として、連結ベ−スの実行税率が提言される。

企業の事業活動の最適化観点からのサプライチェ−ン・マネジメントと連結実行税率の最適化観点からのサプライチェ−ン・マネジメントの2面から、サプライチェ−ン・マネジメントを構築する。

サプライチェ−ン・モデルの1つに「プリンシパルストラクチャ−」という考え方がある。プリンシパルとは、特定の地域ごとにおける、製造や販売機能を統括、管理する会社の事。

税務面の留意点

1)プリンシパルに対する優遇税制適用要件

2)付加価値税VAT)と恒久的施設(PE)

3)関税

税務面以外の留意点

1)法的規制

2)為替規制

3)人的資源の移転及びマネジメントの関与

2013-04-29

Freedom fighter - Margaret Thatcher

Economic historian Jerry Muller argues that rising economic inequality "is more deeply rooted and intractable than generally recognized" -- because of families. He says your financial fate could be determined by who you choose as a partner, if you decide to get married and your family unit. Photo by Vstock LLC/Getty Images.

A Note from Paul Solman: I have long been an admirer of economic historian Jerry Muller of Catholic University and his books "The Mind and the Market," "Adam Smith in His Time and Ours" and "Capitalism and the Jews." So when he recently published an article called "Capitalism and Inequality" in Foreign Affairs -- given our longtime interest in both topics -- I asked him to write something for The Business Desk.

He sent us a post that I don't buy in full. And others may find his emphasis on the influence of "assortative mating" on increasing inequality unappealing, if not downright objectionable. (Given all the attention grabbed the last two weeks by Susan Patton's "Letter to the Women of Princeton," the issue of assortative mating -- and the corollary theme of the "rich getting richer" -- is in the air right now.)

But neither of these constitute reasons not to read what Muller has sent us about the most troubling trend of my long career as an economics reporter: rising economic inequality.


Jerry Muller: Inequality is increasing almost everywhere in the post-industrial capitalist world. Despite what many think, this is not the result of politics, nor is politics likely to reverse it. The problem is more deeply rooted and intractable than generally recognized.

Inequality is an inevitable product of capitalist activity, and expanding equality of opportunity only increases it -- because some individuals, families, and communities are simply better able than others to exploit the opportunities for development and advancement that today's capitalism affords. Some of the very successes of western capitalist societies in expanding access and opportunity, combined with recent changes in technology and economics, have contributed to increasing inequality. And at the nexus of economics and society is the family, the changing shape and role of which is an often overlooked factor in the rise of inequality.

Though capitalism has opened up ever more opportunities for the development of human potential, not everyone has been able to take full advantage of those opportunities or to progress very far once they have done so.

Formal or informal barriers to equality of opportunity, for example, have historically blocked various sectors of the population -- such as women, minorities, and poor people -- from benefiting fully from all capitalism offers. But over time, in the advanced capitalist world, those barriers have gradually been lowered or removed, so that now opportunity is more equally available than ever before. The inequality that exists today arguably derives less from the unequal availability of opportunity than it does from the unequal ability to exploit opportunity.

And that unequal ability, in turn, stems from differences in the inherent human potential that individuals begin with and in the ways that families and communities enable and encourage that human potential to flourish.

The Role of the Family

The role of the family in shaping individuals' ability and inclination to make use of the means of cultivation that capitalism offers is hard to overstate. The household is not only a site of consumption and of biological reproduction. It is also the main setting in which children are socialized, civilized, and educated, in which habits are developed that influence their subsequent fates as people and as market actors.

To use the language of contemporary economics, the family is a workshop in which human capital is produced.

In a seminal book of 1973, the sociologist Daniel Bell noted that in the advanced capitalist world, knowledge, science, and technology were driving a transformation to what he termed "post-industrial society." Just as manufacturing had previously displaced agriculture as the major source of employment, he argued, so the service sector was now displacing manufacturing. In a post-industrial, knowledge-based economy, the production of manufactured goods depended more on technological inputs than on the skills of the workers who actually built and assembled the products.

That meant a relative decline in the need for and economic value of skilled and semiskilled factory workers -- just as there had previously been a decline in the need for and value of agricultural laborers. In such an economy, the skills in demand included scientific and technical knowledge and the ability to work with information. The revolution in information technology that has swept through the economy in recent decades, meanwhile, has only exacerbated these trends.

The Rising Status of Women

One crucial impact of the rise of the post-industrial economy has been on the status and roles of men and women. Men's relative advantage in the pre-industrial and industrial economies rested in large part on their greater physical strength -- something now ever less in demand. Women, in contrast, whether by biological disposition or socialization, have had a relative advantage in human skills and emotional intelligence, which have become increasingly more important in an economy more oriented to human services than to the production of material objects. The portion of the economy in which women could participate has expanded, and their labor has become more valuable -- meaning that time spent at home now comes at the expense of more lucrative possibilities in the paid work force.

This has led to the growing replacement of male-breadwinner/female-homemaker households by dual-income households. Both advocates and critics of the move of women into the paid economy have tended to overemphasize the role played in this shift by the ideological struggles of feminism, while underrating the role played by changes in the nature of capitalist production. The redeployment of female labor from the household has been made possible in part by the existence of new commodities that cut down on necessary household labor time (such as washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, etc.).

The trend for women to receive more education and greater professional attainments has been accompanied by changing social norms in the choice of marriage partners. In the age of the breadwinner/homemaker marriage, which predominated from the nineteenth century and the first two thirds of the twentieth, women tended to place a premium on earning capacity in their choice of partners. Men, in turn, valued the homemaking capacities of potential spouses more than their vocational attainments. It was not unusual for men and women to marry partners of roughly the same intelligence, but women tended to marry men of higher levels of education and economic achievement. As the economy has passed from an industrial economy to a post-industrial service and information economy, women have joined men in attaining recognition through paid work, and the industrious couple today is more likely to be made of peers, with more equal levels of education and more comparable levels of economic achievement -- a process termed "assortative mating."

Assortative Mating

These post-industrial social trends have had a significant impact on inequality. If family income doubles at each step of the economic ladder, then the total incomes of those families higher up the ladder are bound to increase faster than the total incomes of those further down.

But for a substantial portion of households at the lower end of the ladder, there has been no doubling at all -- for as the relative pay of women has grown and the relative pay of less-educated, working class men has declined, the latter have been viewed as less and less marriageable.

Often, the limitations of human capital that make such men less employable also make them less desirable as companions, and the character traits of men who are chronically unemployed sometimes deteriorate as well. With less to bring to the table, such men are regarded as less necessary -- in part because women can now count on provisions from the welfare state as an additional independent source of income, however meager.

In the United States, among the most striking developments of recent decades has been the stratification of marriage patterns among the various classes and ethnic groups of society. When divorce laws were loosened in the 1960s, there was a rise in divorce rates among all classes. But by the 1980s, a new pattern had emerged: divorce declined among the more educated portions of the populace, while rates among the less-educated portions continued to rise. In addition, the more educated and more well-to-do were more likely to wed, while the less educated were less likely to do so. Given the family's role as an incubator of human capital, such trends have had important spillover effects on inequality.

Abundant research shows that children raised by two parents in an ongoing union are more likely to develop the self-discipline and self-confidence that make for success in life, whereas children -- and particularly boys -- reared in single-parent households (or, worse, households with a mother who has a series of temporary relationships) have a greater risk of adverse outcomes.

In today's globalized, post-industrial environment, human capital is more important than ever in determining life chances. This makes families more important, too, because as each generation of social science researchers discovers anew (and much to their chagrin), the resources transmitted by the family tend to be highly determinative of success in school and in the workplace.

Familial endowments come in a variety of forms: genetics, prenatal and postnatal nurture, and the cultural orientations conveyed within the family. Money matters, too, of course, but is often less significant than these largely nonmonetary factors. (The prevalence of books in a household is a better predictor of higher test scores than family income.) Over time, to the extent that societies are organized along meritocratic lines, family endowments and market rewards will tend to converge.

Studies show that educated parents tend to invest more time and energy in child care, even when both parents are engaged in the work force. And families strong in human capital are more likely to make fruitful use of the improved means of cultivation that contemporary capitalism offers (such as the potential for online enrichment) while resisting their potential snares (such as unrestricted viewing of television and playing of computer games).

This affects the ability of children to make use of formal education, which is at least potentially, available to all regardless of economic or ethnic status. At the turn of the 20th century, only 6.4 percent of American teenagers graduated from high school, and only one in 400 went on to college. There was thus a huge portion of the population with the capacity, but not the opportunity, for greater educational achievement. Today, the U.S. high school graduation rate is about 75 percent (down from a peak of about 80 percent in 1960), and roughly 40 percent of young adults are enrolled in college.

The Economist Gets it Wrong

"The Economist" recently repeated a shibboleth:

"In a society with broad equality of opportunity, the parents' position on the income ladder should have little impact on that of their children."

The fact is, however, that the greater equality of institutional opportunity there is, the more families' human capital endowments matter. Improvements in the quality of schools may improve overall educational outcomes, but they tend to increase, rather than diminish, the gap in achievement between children from families with different levels of human capital.

Recent investigations that purport to demonstrate less intergenerational mobility in the United States today than in the past (or than in some European nations) fail to note that this may in fact be a perverse product of generations of increasing equality of opportunity. And in this respect, it is possible that the United States may simply be on the leading edge of trends found in other advanced capitalist societies as well.

A growing recognition of the increasing economic inequality and social stratification in post-industrial societies has naturally led to discussions of what can be done about it, and in the American context, the answer from almost all quarters is simple: education.

One strand of this logic focuses on college. There is a growing gap in life chances between those who complete college and those who don't, the argument runs, and so as many people as possible should go to college. Unfortunately, even though a higher percentage of Americans are attending college, they are not necessarily learning more.

An increasing number are unqualified for college-level work, many leave without completing their degrees and others receive degrees reflecting standards much lower than what a college degree has usually been understood to mean.

The most significant divergence in educational achievement occurs before the level of college, meanwhile, in rates of completion of high school, and major differences in performance (by class and ethnicity) appear still earlier, in elementary school. So a second strand of the education argument focuses on primary and secondary schooling. The remedies suggested here include providing schools with more money, offering parents more choice, testing students more often, and improving teacher performance. Even if some or all of these measures might be desirable for other reasons, none has been shown to significantly diminish the gaps between students and between social groups -- because formal schooling itself plays a relatively minor role in creating or perpetuating achievement gaps.

The gaps turn out to have their origins in the different levels of human capital children possess when they enter school -- which has led to a third strand of the education argument: focusing on earlier and more intensive childhood intervention. Suggestions here often amount to taking children out of their family environments and putting them into institutional settings for as much time as possible (Head Start, Early Head Start) or even trying to resocialize whole neighborhoods (as in the Harlem Children's Zone project).

There are examples of isolated successes with such programs, but it is far from clear that these are reproducible on a larger scale. Many programs show short-term gains in cognitive ability, but most of these gains tend to fade out over time, and those that remain tend to be marginal. It is more plausible that such programs improve the noncognitive skills and character traits conducive to economic success -- but at a significant cost and investment, employing resources extracted from the more successful parts of the population (thus lowering the resources available to them) or diverted from other potential uses.

For all these reasons, inequality in advanced capitalist societies seems to be both growing and ineluctable, at least for the time being. That has implications for how those on the right as well as those on left should think about the safety nets provided by the welfare state.