The Comparative Impact of Family Policies in Sweden and Japan

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Virginia Tech


What impact do family policies have on women's ability to have a family and participate in the labor market? Drawing on two cases, Japan and Sweden, I will identify different patterns of family policies' impact on fertility rates and women's participation in the labor market. Comparing the countries of Japan and Sweden, I ask how family policies influence choices about family and work life. Within this context, I will highlight the similarities we can find in both countries. Japan and Sweden are both industrialized nations with highly- developed economic structures and people enjoy high living standards. In both countries, we can also find similar elements of family policy. The three types of policies I study, (child allowances, parental leave legislation, as well as the establishment and expansion of childcare institutions) exist in both countries. At the same time, Japan and Sweden differ in the historical patterns of family roles reflected in each country's family policy framework. Due to these particular differences, the two countries show different outcomes concerning fertility rates and women's labor market participation. In my paper, I will closely examine the relationship between the existing circumstances and women's decisions in this context.



family policy, fertility rates, Women, Japan, Sweden