The Political Economy of Daycare Centers in Japan

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... However, in East Asia, although fertility rates have been dropping, childcare vacancies for children under the age of six are still scarce. Finding a public daycare center for their children continues to be an issue for many parents (Wada 2007;Yu 2009). Moreover, the cost of childcare services is another serious concern for most parents in East Asia, who consider kindergarten and daycare center to be too expensive. ...
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This study examines married women’s employment in East Asia. The authors find that highly educated married mothers have greater bargaining power in marriage, thus allowing them to remain in the labor force. In Japan and South Korea, lower-educated mothers are more likely to be restricted to the home compared to their counterparts in Taiwan and China. Also, for married mothers living in highly educated couples, they still are less likely to remain in the labor force in Japan and South Korea than in Taiwan and China. While individual-level factors may lead to differences in mothers’ labor force participation, there may also be institutional factors that affect the impact of education on a couple’s employment pattern across East Asian societies.
... The proportion of married women returning to work after taking parental leave has increased in recent years, but the proportion that remains employed following first birth is only .25, a figure that has not changed since the mid-1980s (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, NIPSSR, 2007b). This pattern of discontinuous employment reflects the difficulty of combining work and family in a setting where women's career opportunities are limited, men's participation in domestic work is minimal (Tsuya, Bumpass, Choe, & Rindfuss, 2005), and flexible daycare options are in short supply (Wada, 2007). It also reflects strong normative expectations for a woman to be a "good wife and wise mother" (ryōsai kenbo) and to support her husband's career success (naijo no kō). ...
In this study, we evaluate alternative hypotheses about the potentially harmful or beneficial effects of marriage on women's health and examine the factors underlying observed relationships between marriage and health. Using data from the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers, an annual survey of a nationally representative sample of Japanese women (N = 1,610), our study advances current scholarship on marriage and health by focusing on a context characterized by a high degree of gender inequality. Results from models employing different approaches to the potential role of health-related selection into marriage consistently indicate that marriage is associated with better mental and physical health and that the lower levels of employment among married women play an important role in explaining this relationship. Our findings highlight the importance of considering how the specific pathways linking marriage and health may vary across societies with different gender and institutional contexts.
... The distinctively low level of labor force participation of married women with small children in Japan reflects the difficulty of balancing work and family responsibilities. The difficulty of work-family balance reflects gender and age discrimination in the labor market (Brinton 2001), inflexible work schedules and an unfriendly work environment for married women (Yu 2005), limited access to high-quality, convenient child care (Wada 2007), husbands' very limited participation in domestic work ( Tsuya et al. 2005), and cultural norms emphasizing mothers' roles in children's education (Hirao 2001). Interestingly, this pattern is also found among highly educated women, who have theoretically stronger incentives (i.e., higher wages) and the ability to remain in the labor force (i.e., economic resources to outsource child care or housework). ...
The rapid expansion of nonstandard work has altered the nature of women's employment, but previous research on married women's employment trajectories in Japan has paid little attention to the role of nonstandard work. To fill this gap, we examine how patterns of employment in regular and nonstandard positions vary by married women's socioeconomic status using nationally representative longitudinal data. Results from discrete-time competing risks models of labor force transitions indicate that university graduates have the most stable labor force attachment in that they are the least likely to move from standard to nonstandard employment and to exit nonstandard jobs. In contrast, married women with a high school degree or less are more likely to reenter the labor force to take low-quality nonstandard jobs. These results are consistent with a scenario characterized by both continuity and change. Older patterns of labor force exit and reentry, combined with the rise in nonstandard employment, are most relevant for less educated women while the emergence of more career employment opportunities is most relevant for highly educated women. Considering the role of women's income in shaping patterns of inequality, these findings have important implications for stratification in Japan.
... Nearly three-fourths of the women who married in 1995–97 were not in the labor force either prior to or following the birth of their first child (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 2003), a level similar to that observed for marriages taking place in the 1980s. Two important factors limiting the employment of young mothers in Japan are the shortage of high-quality, convenient day care for preschool age children (Wada, 2007) and husbands' limited participation in housework (Tsuya et al., 2005). Recent figures indicate that over 30,000 children are on waiting lists for licensed day care centers while another 200,000 are in unlicensed childcare (Boling, 2007). ...
In recent years, some public administration and management scholars have observed a shift in the trend of New Public Management (NPM) and privatization towards post-NPM, and a ‘return to the public’ in terms of public sector reforms. However, this shift does not necessarily appear in all policy fields. The aim of this article is to analyse public sector reforms and their policy processes in social service provision, focusing on child day-care centres in Japan since the 1990s. The article reveals the trajectory of policy reforms in relation to the privatization of day-care centres using a historical institutionalism approach.
Focusing on the influence of childcare on women’s time use behaviour, this paper develops an integrated model of activity participation and time allocation, where the former is represented based on a scobit model and the latter based on a multi-linear utility function under the utility-maximizing principle. The integration of the scobit model with the time allocation model is done by applying Lee’s transformation. Especially, the scobit model is adopted to relax the assumption, made in the Logit or Probit model, that individuals having indifferent preferences over participation and non-participation are most sensitive to changes in explanatory variables. Using a large-scale time use data (66,839 persons) collected in Japan, the effectiveness of the proposed integrated model is empirically confirmed. It is revealed that the probabilities of participating in compulsory-contracted activities and discretionary activities with the highest sensitivity to changes in explanatory variables are 65 and 81%, respectively. Variances of social childcare variables explain about half of the total variance of the time use for discretionary activities; however, for compulsory-contracted activities, social childcare variables explain only less than 1% of the total variance of activity participation and less than 10% of total variable of time allocation.
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