Study of Strategies for Responding to Low Fertiity from the Perspective of Gender Equality: Comparative Analysis of Korea and Japan
Type Basic Period 2018
Manager SeungAh Hong Date 2019-01-23
Fiie Basic_03 Study of Strategies for Responding to Low Fertility from the Perspective of Gender Equality Comparative Analysis of Korea and Japan.pdf ( 82.19 KB )



Study of Strategies for Responding to Low Fertility from the Perspective of Gender Equality: Comparative Analysis of Korea and Japan


SeungAh Hong

Inhee Choi

Nanjoo Kim

Jimee Kim


As the continued low fertility issue in Korea has had a great impact on the overall society, it is a serious concern that the impact may last for a long time. Recording the lowest total fertility rate of 1.08 in 2005, Korea has since implemented its First, Second, and Third Basic Plans on Low Fertility and Aging Society. However, reversing the declining fertility rates still remains a challenge.


Although there have been many studies on low fertility, they have reached the similar conclusions that late marriage and childbirth have negative impacts on fertility, and therefore marriage and childbirth should be encouraged. However, these conclusions have limitations in that they have not actively addressed changes in family or the perspective of gender equality. In other words, the low fertility issue should be assessed in consideration of how marriage and childbirth have changed in society as well as demographic variables that are observed as phenomena.


In this context, this study conducted a comparative analysis of Korea and Japan in an effort to seek response strategies for low fertility from the perspective of gender equality. As Korea and Japan have long faced the risks of low fertility, the two countries have established and implemented diverse policies, which have brought no fundamental changes until now. As such, this study aims to assess the issue through a comparative analysis based on the perspective of gender equality and to seek solutions to the issue. In particular, the study examines the impact of individuals’ awareness and values on institutional and policy changes from various aspects by approaching systems and culture through a frame of comparative analysis.


The major results of the study are as follows: first, its comparative analysis of policies in Korea and Japan shows that the two countries implemented response polices on low fertility with goals set on increasing fertility rates. Also, their major policies were concentrated on childcare support policies, but they failed to bring sufficient outcomes. As they did not go beyond “the male bread winner model,” these policies could not sufficiently address women’s employment. Due to the limitation of improving their employment environment, women had difficulty achieving work and life balance fundamentally. Another limitation was that there was almost no change in the division of gender responsibilities related to childcare and domestic work.


Second, according to the results of conducting a questionnaire survey and focus group interviews with the “2040 generations,” referring to young people in their 20s and 40s of Korea and Japan, Japan maintained a relatively traditional way of thinking about family values and gender roles, while Korea was undergoing a rapid change in values. In particular, Korean women had the most positive attitude toward changes in gender roles in the family, including men’s participation in childcare. Regarding the conflict in work and life balance, women’s overall conflict level was high, and so was Japanese men’s conflict level. Because Korean women and men were highly dissatisfied with their present life and concerned about their future life, they had a low consensus on the low fertility issue.


Third, according to the results of analyzing determinants of Korean and Japanese married women’s happiness using data from the Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families by the Korean Women’s Development Institute and the Japan Household Panel Survey by Keio University, men’s participation in housework had a positive impact in both countries. In Korea, non-regular female workers had low happiness levels than regular and non-wage female workers. In Japan, women with more children had lower happiness levels.


Based on these results, this study presents the following policy suggestions that the quality of citizens’ life be increased; job security ensured by improving employment conditions; equal family culture expanded; diversity of family composition and individual right to choose a family form guaranteed; social protection of birth reinforced; gender gaps in the labor market resolved; models changed from the standard male worker model to the model of workers who are responsible for the family; childcare shared equally in the family; and an inclusive system established among the government, community, school, and family.