Analysis of Factors Preventing a Rise in Employment Rates Among Women
- Measures must reflect local conditions -
March 17, 2009
Given the fears of a shortage of labor in the medium-to-long term, it is crucial that Japan should make greater use of its female workforce. In a survey of employment rates by region and by age, a focus on married women reveals (i) that employment rates are higher in rural areas than in urban areas, (ii) that the decline in employment among women in their early 30s is evident only in urban areas and (iii) that the decline in employment among women in their 50s has been sharper in rural areas than in urban areas. Behind these phenomena lie differences in family structure, such as the fact that nuclear families account for a higher proportion of families in urban areas, and the fact that, in rural areas, a high proportion of families comprise three generations.
Given these differences in family structure, the greatest obstacle to married women taking up employment in urban areas is child-raising, while in rural areas it is the need to nurse family members. In urban areas, there is a shortage of childcare infrastructure, the difference in numbers of hours worked between men and women in their 30s (i.e. the age at which women are raising children) is considerable, and husbands are not taking on a sufficient share of household chores and child-raising work. In rural areas, profitability issues mean that the volume of visiting nursing care services available is relatively low and is not fully able to cope with latent demand.
If more women are to take up employment in urban areas, childcare services and child-raising support systems will need to be expanded, and "flexible working" must be promoted so as to encourage husbands to do more of the household chores and child-raising work. In rural areas, the supply of nursing care services must be expanded and town planning will have to be more compact to promote greater efficiency.
For more information on the content of this report, please contact Hisashi Yamada, the Japan Research Institute, Limited.