Caregiving and Paid Work Among Midlife Women in Japan
How do Japanese women balance caregiving and paid work? Previous research documented a negative correlation between participation in the two activities. This negative association could result from either of the two possible causal processes: non-working women may be more likely to start caregiving than working women, and those women who become caregivers may be more likely to quit working. However, the causal relationship between women’s caregiving and work decisions in Japan has not been fully elucidated up to this point because most prior research relied on cross-sectional data.
Drawing on the first two waves (2005, 2006) of a nationwide panel survey of Japanese adults in their fifties, this study explored the relationship between caregiving and employment among middle-age Japanese women. The results of multivariate regression analyses showed that the causal relationships are bidirectional: non-working women have a higher likelihood of providing care, while caregiving reduces the chance of participation in labor force. These findings will be interpreted in terms of the Japanese social context, in which the transition away from the traditional model of male breadwinners and female caretakers has not yet been fully achieved.