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The Impact of Work-Life Balance Policies on the Time Allocation and Fertility Preference of Japanese Women

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • July 2, 2020
  • Bipasha Maity,
  • Miki Kohara, Bipasha Maity

We analyze the impact of work-life balance policies enacted by the government of Japan on the share of time allocated by Japanese women to paid employment, home production and leisure on a typical working day. Using panel data and employing fixed effects to control for unobserved individual heterogeneity, we find that these policies have had some success in altering cultural norms about the gender division of labour in Japanese households. In particular, we find that these policies increased married women’s share of time spent in paid employment. However, the increase in the share of time spent in paid employment is not largely compensated by cutting down the share of time spent in home production. This necessitates the need to cut down the share of time spent for leisure, implying a “double burden” of work for women. Further, work-life balance policies in married men’s firms do not appear to significantly influence their time allocation between various activities on a typical working day. We find that although work-life balance policies do not appear to influence the desirability of having a child for all women, they help women with children younger than six years raise the share of time spent in paid employment by largely cutting down their time allocation to home production.

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