The Economics of Social Security in Japan

The Economics of Social Security in Japan

ESRI Studies Series on Ageing

Edited by Toshiaki Tachibanaki

This book provides a comprehensive appraisal of social security in Japan, where traditionally the burden of welfare provision has been the main responsibility of the family and employers, rather than the state. However, an ageing population, changes in family structure and continued recession has led to an urgent reappraisal of this situation.

Chapter 10: The child-care leave system in Japan: development, problems and further reform

Akira Kawaguchi

Subjects: asian studies, asian social policy, economics and finance, welfare economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


Akira Kawaguchi* 1. INTRODUCTION Harmonization of work and family has been attracting increasing attention in Japan. There are several reasons, one of which is the continuous decline in fertility. During the baby boom after the second world war, the total fertility rate exceeded 4. Since then, it has been declining and recorded a postwar low of 1.33 in 2001. The sharp decline will cause difficulty in funding social insurance, particularly old-age pensions. It is widely perceived that one of the most important factors that caused the decline in fertility is the difficulty for working women in rearing children. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare have implemented several policies which harmonize work and family. The enactment of the Child-care Leave Law is one of them. Another reason for the increased attention paid to work–family harmonization is the increasing demand by working women for work–family harmonization programs. Although the proportion of married women in the female labor force has increased, the majority of women who start a family resign from the workforce when they give birth, returning to the labor market when their children have grown up. Upon their return, however, most of them work part-time, partly because it is difficult to find full-time jobs after an absence from the labor market and partly because the working hours of full-time jobs are too long and too rigid for mothers. The lifetime income of women declines sharply due to this career break. A familyfriendly policy is necessary...

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