Female labor force participationFor a long time, Japan relied on the male breadwinner family model to support its post-war economic growth. The model, in which men are responsible for earning an income and women stay at home to take care of the household and children, is still ingrained in people’s perceptions of traditional gender norms. The share of women in the workforce in Japan has increased over the past decades, which is the reason for the rather high score in the category of labor force participation. However, women’s careers tend to be interrupted for a longer period of time upon the birth of their first child, resulting in an M-shaped curve when looking at the female labor force participation rate by age.
Irregular employment is much more prevalent among womenA significant share of women in the workforce is in irregular employment. This means that they work part-time or engage in temporary or contract work where they do not have the same access to social security benefits as regular full-time employees.
Given Japan’s seniority-based employment system with long working hours and a lack of child care, it is difficult for women to return to the career track after becoming mothers. Rather, many chose to work in jobs that allow them to balance their domestic and professional responsibilities. In fact, the percentage of women in regular employment reaches its highest point in the age group of 25-29-year-olds and then gradually declines after the mean age of childbearing is reached.