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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Why Is the I.M.F. Urging Japan to Bring Women Into the Labor Market?

Why Is the I.M.F. Urging Japan to Bring Women Into the Labor Market?

Saturday, 12 April 2014 22:16

That's what readers of this NYT piece must have been asking. It reported:

"It [the I.M.F.] has urged Tokyo to make structural reforms to bolster its labor market, by, for instance, bringing women into the work force."

This seems strange since the OECD reports that the employment to population ratio for prime age women in Japan (25-54) was 71.5 percent in the third quarter of 2013, the most recent data available. By comparison it was 69.4 percent in the United States.



From comments below and other comments I have received, I realize I need to clarify my point. From all the data I have seen and accounts I have heard, Japan continues to be a very sexist society and women almost certainly face more discrimination than in the United States. I was simply saying that their problem is not bringing women into the workforce. On that score the country has done remarkably well. The employment to population ratio for prime age women rose from 67.6 percent in 2007, before the recession, to 71.5 percent in the most recent quarter. By contrast, in the United States it fell from 72.5 percent to 69.4 percent over the same period. Based on these data , getting women into the labor force is one thing that Japan seems to be doing well.


Note: numbers were corrected to show employment to population ratios for prime age women.



Comments (6)Add Comment
written by herman schwartz, April 12, 2014 11:24
the rate of part-time employment among JPese women is roughly 2x that in the US, at 34% vs 17% (rough averages over the 2000s) and roughly 55% higher than the OECD average at 22% part-time . JP is like the NLD in this respect, with very high nominal rates of female employment but low(-ish) levels of 'effort' i.e. hours. plus it is the OECD's round about way of saying: you need to let women have real jobs and real career tracks.
written by djb, April 13, 2014 5:37
What people do at home is not important

The important thing is get as many people in the labor market as possible to drive down wages

The author of that article makes no attempt whatsoever to explain why the imf recommended "structural" changes like getting more women in the workforce
written by Eric Pedersen , April 13, 2014 6:36
I'm a bit confused. It looks like the link you give (and the numbers referred to) are total employment, not female employment. Female employment is given as 62.6 for Japan and 62.5 for the U.S., which still implies a large gender disparity in employment to give Japan an overall employment rate of 72.2.
written by Kat, April 13, 2014 6:53
I'm confused too. I see Q4 2013 as the most recently available data- so all of 2013 is available (62.5 v. 62.3 for the US).
Can Women Save Japan (and Asia Too)? Finance & Development, October 2012, Vol. 49, No. 3
written by Anon, April 13, 2014 7:46
I am a bit concerned because Dean Baker is one of the bloggers that I read without checking and now I will have to start checking his work. He could not have read the IMF report - here is an older one showing the problems that women with children have rejoining the workforce.

FRED Says:
written by Larry Signor, April 13, 2014 9:58

Yup...Dean is right...q for women aged 25-54...debunk dat.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.