Female employment rates are rising across the world, but not in the US. Why?
Japan is not exactly the country that comes to mind as a model of gender equality and high labor force participation for women. In 1995, the OECD estimated women’s employment rate in Japan at 56.5 percent, almost 10 percentage points lower than in the U.S., which had an employment rate of 66 percent for women at the time. Between 1995 and 1999, the employment rate for Japanese women grew by less than half a percentage point, while for women in the U.S. it grew by almost 3 percentage points.
However, since 2000 this trend completely reversed. Between 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for women in Japan increased by almost 14 percentage points, while in the U.S. it dropped by over 6 percentage points. Japan’s employment rate for women surpassed the U.S. in 2014. Currently, almost 65 percent of Japanese women are employed, while only about 63 percent of women in the US are employed.
In recent years, Japan has launched extensive campaigns to encourage labor force participation by women. The government took various steps such as increasing allowances given to new parents, subsidizing daycare, and ensuring both mothers and fathers benefit from paid parental leave.