Gender Inequality

The annual gender gap report by the World Economic Forum has come out and Japan has placed 101st out of 135 countries. In developmental economics we have been discussing the reliable indexes for potential development. Studies of economic development in recent years have shown that the most reliable index of development is gender equality. The Japanese don’t seem to hold any regard for this statistic as demonstrated by almost no web reaction to the poll. However, based on the logic of a developmental economist improving gender equality should be one of Japan’s strategies for improved GDP growth. Furthermore, with a shrinking population getting more women to work should be a priority of the Japanese government. Getting more women to work will be an effective tool at balancing out the loss to the labor force through retirees and slow the shrinking tax base. When I went to see what could be done to improve the work rate of women in Japan I came across and article that showed that out of all industrialized countries Japan has the second highest disparity in wages for gender with women earning 30% less than men for full time employment. A focus on improving wage equality may be an effective way to increase female employment.

6 thoughts on “Gender Inequality

  1. wilburns

    In your research, did you find any governmental reaction to the report? There doesn’t seem to be any official statement or conference discussing what actions the government is (or isn’t) taking to try and remedy this issue.

    It does seem–as you suggest–that somebody in some position of authority within the government would see the benefits of increasing female employee wages and female workforce participation in order to compensate for a declining population and growing pool of retirees. It just seems pretty basic in my opinion. If you own a car (the economy) with a very small gas tank (the population), you would probably want to make sure that your car used the fuel in that small tank as efficiently as possible. Increasing female participation is a very good way to “improve efficiency” in the workforce, and a good way to do that would be to increase female wage rates to parity with male wage rates through some legislation.

    1. myers

      I agree that this an important issue the government should focus its attention on, but from an economic viewpoint, I don’t know if it is as easy as your car metaphor. If a stay-at-home mother leaves to join the workforce, she also creates a new job because she must hire someone to take care of her children. In an economy without a declining population, this would be very beneficial. In Japan, this may not be as efficient as your car metaphor suggests.

      1. the prof
        If you need to find daycare, then the cost and convenience are clearly items that affect the net benefits of work, of labor force participation. There are many avenues of adjustment, flexible or short hours a primary one. Having a husband who contributes to household tasks is another margin of adjustment. The bottom line thus becomes empirical, what are the barriers to women’s participation, and of course there may also be statistical anomalies that affect the particular OECD metric, comparing apples and oranges. That’s a topic for today’s class…
  2. the prof
    Gender gaps have been around for a long time, and are hardly unique to Japan. However, they are larger in Japan than in other OECD countries. Indeed, see the chapter (slated for 30 Oct discussion) in the OECD Economic Survey: Japan and in the latest SSJ newsletter of 2-3 page research summaries.
    I will show data from graphs I’ve put together of participation rates, how many women work and how that is changing over time. [Ditto men, particularly at the retirement end of the spectrum, a paper on which I’m working.]
  3. henryl

    Excuse the hint of sexism, but isn’t it well documented that as more women enter the workforce the age they have children and the number of children they have decreases? Isn’t another one of Japan’s problems an older and older workforce? While obviously this idea is very reasonable in terms of women’s rights and medium term GDP growth, the long term pragmatism of it may be lacking.

  4. tommd13

    Piggy backing off of Henry, I also think that an increase in women in the workforce hinders fertility rate. As we have discussed in class more and more women are entering into the workforce and therefore getting married much later. This also means that they may choose not to have children or have children much later than social norms previously warranted. Even though more women in the workforce would counter the number of retirees now. What will it do to the future of Japan if the amount of children per household continues to go down while the amount of women in the workforce increases?

Comments are closed.