What Does the Japanese Labor Market Mean for Female Workers? -A Comparison with Selected OECD Nations-
Shinji Hasegawa (Waseda University)
Paper short abstract:
We present the work situation in selected OECD countries for female workers. Although European countries, the United States and Japan are different in many aspects influenced by distinctive systems of each nation, various forms of gender disparities can still be detected in all countries.
Paper long abstract:
The productive-age population reached its peak in Japan in 1995, when it stood at 87.25 million. Since then, the productive-age population has been continuously decreasing, impacting the labor supply. By 2014, the population had decreased to 77.85 million, which resulted in a shortage in the labor force. Due to this shortage, Japan is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain its economic growth. Women, elderly people, and possibly immigrants or foreigners are expected to contribute to labor supply. One of the factors which characterizes the Japanese labor market is considered to be the type of skills of workers. Skills can be classified into two main types, general skills and specific skills. After the 1960s, the notion of specific skills embodied in employees via on-the-job training had been widely accepted and offered the theoretical foundation of long-term employment and the seniority wage system now prevailing in Japan. The logic was that firms had not been willing to provide on-the-job or in-house specific training to part-time workers at firms' expense. Many companies expected a large number of female employees to leave jobs after childbirth. The fact that many women had not considered their jobs as life-long position until official retirement age gave employers a rationale to justify unequal treatments for women such as firms not offering on-the-job specific training as for full-time male employees. Ever since, Japanese society has tolerated a variety of gender disparities. However, a growing number of women are working nowadays even after getting married. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's White Paper (2015), the number of double income families has constantly been growing, at least from 1980, and it exceeded the number of single income families for the first time in 1992. More than half the couples are double income couples currently. We present the work situation in selected OECD countries for female workers. Although European countries, the United States and Japan are quite different in many aspects influenced by distinctive social systems of each nation, various forms of gender disparities can still be detected in all countries.
Women and Foreign Workers in the Japanese Labour Market