NRI Papers
No. 208 April 1, 2016
  Effects of the Promotion of "Women's Empowerment"
--Suggestions based on a three-country survey in Japan,the U.S. and China (Volume 1)--
 
Motoko MATSUSHITA, Kazumi AOKI and Shiraki KATOKU

In the U.S. where the share of female executives is far greater than that in Japan, invisible gender gaps still persist and many women face the challenges of balancing career and family, exposing a situation that is surprisingly similar to that in Japan. Even so, the rise of "Indie Women (unmarried, financially stable working women)" has been gathering attention as one of the new, rapidly growing consumer segments.

In China, a state policy of promoting gender equality in the labor market has led to the rise of strong and forward-thinking women. However, in recent years, the wages of babysitters who are rural migrant workers and who have supported two-income families in urban areas have been soaring. Because the high childcare expense makes working less justifiable, the proportion of stay-at-home mothers has been increasing. In the future, there will be many more work options offering greater flexibility as exemplified by an increasing number of women who are starting online businesses.

In Japan, gender bias in the division of labor has become less conspicuous and the number of couples where both husband and wife work has been increasing. Nevertheless, in most cases, wives work merely as secondary wage earners. The underlying factors behind women remaining secondary earners include Japan's working environment that makes it difficult for both men and women to achieve a healthy work-life balance, in addition to the shortage of childcare support services.

Survey results suggest that enabling both husband and wife to achieve and maintain a good work-life balance will lead to an increase in the levels of life satisfaction and happiness and will eventually boost the country's vitality. In addition to stimulating women's spending, the promotion of women's empowerment will bring about an increase in the number of households where both husband and wife work full time and show a higher propensity to consume, with an associated expansion of consumption driven by leisure activities. An increase in the number of young families will also have the effect of expanded spending.

Contents
I Forms of the Family in Japan, the U.S. and China, Respectively, and Related Challenges Facing Each Country
II American Women and Chinese Women
III Comparison of Japanese, American and Chinese Women in Terms of Perceptions and Ways of Working
IV Suggestions for "Women's Empowerment" in Japan

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