Gender-associated discrimination on the Japanese and South Korean workforce
Dataset: Personal Coverage and Well-being; area ‘Sex > Employment: Work push contribution speed, by the sex and ages group’, offered by
Dataset: Personal Cover and you can Well-being; section: ‘Gender > Employment: Display out-of in region-day a position, from the intercourse and you will age group’, available at
Note: From the domain name out-of accessibility effective and money, the fresh new SIGI rating out of The japanese and Korea is 0.296 and you can 0.33, correspondingly, that have 0 indicating full gender equality and 1 demonstrating total intercourse inequality (OECD, 2019a).
Florian Paulsen was a student throughout the Worldwide Master’s Program from inside the Asia Pacific Degree at the National Chengchi School when you look at the Taipei, Taiwan, and a recipient of your own MOE Taiwan Grant and you will a scholarship of your German Educational Exchange Solution (DAAD). Their lookup passion focus on regionalisation and you will developmental techniques regarding Asia-Pacific, having specific increased exposure of the fresh interrelationships ranging from monetary passion and you can public change in East and you will Southeast China.
Regardless of more or less effective structural change, what remains in place and furthermore impedes gender inclusiveness is the system in which eligibility for promotion is conferred upon the seniority principle, in both Japan and Korea. A pronounced seniority principle excludes women from higher career positions in that they are not given equal opportunities of investment in their human capital over a long-term career at one company (Schoppa, 2006; Steinberg & Nakane, 2012). Hwang (2003) elucidates the Korean seniority principle by the insider-outsider theory of employment. He highlights how workers are compensated based upon personal characteristics, such as age and rank, mainly in large insider labour markets of the chaebols, whereas the wage system in small businesses on the outsider labour market is determined more equally by the value of the labour provided. With women representing more than 3 percent of top chaebol executives for the first time in 2018, change may come about gently; however, it becomes clear that women still face a severe glass ceiling between them and the executive floor, in Korea and Japan alike (Seo, 2018; Matsui et al., 2014). For instance, the proportion of women among managers in 2018 was only about 10.5 and 13 percent for Korea and Japan, respectively, while it ranged much higher from 36.2 percent in the United Kingdom to 40.5 percent in the United States (OECD, 2019a; Table step one, Appendix). The seniority principle and gender inequality in workplace authority are even more pronounced in Japan on account of the persistent lifetime employment system, a distinctive legal characteristic of Japan’s labour law, which was formerly set out to guarantee families with a stable income of the ‘male breadwinner’ and provide companies with a secure and loyal workforce (Wright, Baxter & Birkelund,, 1995; Schoppa, 2006). However, to cope with stagnant growth, Japanese companies have increased the use of non-regular employment while restricting reconfigurations in general employment practices, ultimately protecting regular male core employees (Nakata & Miyazaki, 2007). Women’s limited access to the ‘old boy’s network’ and promotion opportunities often restricts them to non-career positions and part-time work in the low-paid service sector. With double the share of women working part-time in Japan than in Korea, reforming the Japanese lifetime employment system should be a major concern for policymakers to break with discriminatory practices and incentivise female labour intake. In the wake of globalisation and its forces towards labour flexibility and talent circulation, Korea has already taken incremental steps in reforming its labour law, but Matsui et al. (2014) believe that these forces have also prompted Japanese firms to open up and rethink traditional and discriminatory employment practices.
Thirdly, in face of the ageing populations of Korea and Japan, and the shift towards mature and labour-intensive service sectors, the concept of ‘wage-worthy labour’ has to be revaluated in order to lift women out of the productivity trap. Not long ago, South Koreans often viewed women’s work as a secondary income, therefore neglecting equal remuneration (Hwang 2003). In 2018, time spent on unpaid work, such as housework or care for family members (children, elderly), amounted to more than 220 minutes per day for Japanese and Korean women, and to less than 50 for men, who engaged instead in 60 percent more time of paid work than women (OECD, 2019b).3 Persistent societal norms and the aforementioned rollback may impede drastic near-term redistribution of paid and unpaid labour, but rapidly changing demographics will sooner or later edge the public and private sector in both societies into revaluating the concept of labour, especially in Japan. Additionally, the current law mandates equal remuneration for work of equal value (OECD, 2019a; Dining table step one, Appendix). However, implementation falls short of effectiveness but needs to be reconsidered in light of the shrinking labour force and maturing labour-intensive service sectors, such as elderly care, which will experience an increasing demand to be dealt with. With Korea having been able to redistribute labour somehow more equally among genders, Japan will have to follow up. Also, the gender pay gap must be narrowed and remuneration of unpaid work considered on account of changing labour environments and increasing demand for labour with pronounced qualitative value.