Summary of Lessons from the Rise of Women’s Labor Force Participation in Japan

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Economists Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn and Becca Portman analyze what spurs women to join and remain in the workforce. As public policy has raised Japan’s employment rate for women, the authors make a robust case for similar measures that might help address the US’s declining rate of female labor participation. While the study does not delve into the cultural forces that sway women’s job decisions, getAbstract believes that it nonetheless adds notably to the field of gender economics and recommends its expert findings to policy makers and executives.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How work trends for women in Japan differ from those for women in the United States,
  • How age and education affect employment in both countries, and
  • How public policy played a substantial role in increasing employment among Japanese women.
 

About the Authors

Jay Shambaugh is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where Ryan Nunn is a fellow and Becca Portman is a senior research assistant.

 

Summary

Japan has experienced a rise of nearly 10 percentage points in the participation rate of women in its labor pool: In 2000, the share of women at work or looking for work stood at 66.5%, but in 2016, it reached 76.3%. In contrast, the workforce participation rate of women in the United States reached 76.5% in 2000, its highest point, and then dropped to 74.3% by 2016. Understanding the drivers of these divergent trends can shed light on how policy makers can encourage women to engage in the labor force, thereby boosting overall employment levels and economic growth. 


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