Date of this Version



Mauro Guillen


Female labor force participation, Japan, USA, Sweden


In the decades that followed World War II, the Japanese economy grew at a surprising rate, placing the nation among the ranks of the most developed in the world. Nonetheless, women – particularly married women – were largely confined to positions outside of the labor market due to traditional gender norms and subsequent lack of opportunities. While the absence of half of the Japanese population was negligible in eras of high growth, it is no longer a healthy option for an aging Japanese economy that has been struggling with deflation for fifteen years. Structural reform is needed, and more women must be invited to be active participants in the labor market. This paper studies the status quo of female labor force participation in Japan and compares its family policy, taxation, and flexible working arrangements to those of Sweden and the United States to draw meaningful policy recommendations for Japan. It is clear that Japanese policy falls short of correcting existing gender norms and policy must be reformed so that it reflects a more egalitarian stance.



Date Posted: 21 March 2016


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