The Political Economy of Japan’s Low Fertility

This book takes an interdisciplinary approach to one of Japan’s thorniest public policy issues: why are women increasingly forgoing motherhood? At the heart of the matter lies a paradox: although the overall trend among rich countries is for fertility to decrease as female labor participation increases, gender-friendly countries resist the trend. Conversely, gender-unfriendly countries have lower fertility rates than they would have if they changed their labor markets to encourage the hiring of women—and therein lies Japan’s problem. The authors argue that the combination of an inhospitable labor market for women and insufficient support for childcare pushes women toward working harder to promote their careers, to the detriment of childbearing. Controversial and enlightening, this book provides policy recommendations for solving not just Japan’s fertility issue but those of other modern democracies facing a similar crisis.

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