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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Childcare and Work-Life Balance in Low Fertility Japan

 October 2007 - August 2020

Japan’s declining fertility rate is a complex problem, with a combination of numerous factors influencing the birth rate, such as a lack of attractive marriage role models beyond traditional gender roles, higher education levels for women, higher rates of female labour force participation, rising costs of living and children's education, as well as economic constraints and uncertainties. In response, Japan's declining fertility rate has triggered multiple governmental efforts. A number of social policies, such as the highly publicized “Angel Plan” from 1994 and the “New Angel Plan” from 1999 focused on improving the daycare situation by providing more centres and longer hours of care, in order to entice Japanese parents to have more children. Recent efforts have focused more on improving the work-life balance of Japanese employees. Yet so far, waiting lists for children to get into daycare remain high, and work-life balance is far from being achieved satisfactorily. Thus this research project looks in detail at parents who have at least one child in daycare, to understand their experiences and challenges of having their child(ren) in daycare and fulfilling their workplace obligations at the same time. The research uses a multi-method approach: a qualitative and quantitative survey among over 350 parents throughout Japan; participant observation among parents' groups who focus on improving the daycare system; and a media analysis of the public discourse on daycare, work-life balance and the low fertility rate.


November 6 - November 7, 2008
Symposia and Conferences
Fertility and Social Stratification - Germany and Japan in Comparison -