LIFESTYLE CHANGES IN JAPAN
Like many other countries, Japan is in the midst of major social change. The area of Japanese life that has changed the most since World War II is the family. The greatest shifts have been seen in women's lives, but men's lives have been altered as well. Changes in Women's Lives
Two of the most significant changes in the lives of Japanese women are the extension of their average lifespan and the decrease in the average number of children they have. In 1935 the average lifespan for women in Japan was just short of fifty years; in 2007 it had skyrocketed to almost eighty-six years. In the early postwar years, the average Japanese woman gave birth to four children, but by 2007, the number of births per woman had dropped to 1.34. The drop in the birthrate is, in part, a result of women's growing participation in the workforce. 3
Women have been steadily increasing their rate of employment outside the home, and Japanese companies are coming to rely more on women in all parts of their operations—on the factory floor as well as in the office. It had been the tradition to assign women to a special secretarial career track and to deny them access to both shop floor and managerial positions. Recently, however, more and more manufacturers are taking steps to make it possible for women to do blue-collar jobs which were once reserved for men. Women have been given access to the management track as well, and as a result, the number of women pursuing managerial jobs has grown substantially. 4
It used to be that women would quit working as soon as they married, but that is no longer the case. However, many women interrupt their careers for several years to raise a family. When broken down by age, the female workplace participation rate represents an "M" shaped curve. A low percentage of women between the ages of thirty and thirty-four work because they leave the labor market temporarily to take care of young families. This represents the dip in...
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