UNAIR scientist notices wage gap in Japanese female workers

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Illustration by Feri Fenoria

UNAIR NEWS – “The gender wage gap in Japan is quite high, the third highest among OECD countries.” It is a statement from Magdalena Triasih Dumauli, SE., M.Ec when commenting on the wage gap of female workers in Japan.

In her presentation, she reviewed the labor market system in Japan is famous for its unique two characteristics, a lifetime of work with payment of wages based on the length of work. Companies in Japan each year, she said, recruit new graduates to become regular employees, provide on-the-job training to employees based on company-specific skills and employ them until retirement age.

“Continuity of work with one company is very important for the continuation of career paths and the labor market wages that benefit regular employees in Japan,” she said.

However, it is different with the job market for Japanese women who want a career. Magdalena revealed that most Japanese female workers who stopped working on the grounds of childbirth and raising could not continue their careers due to lower wages. So women must move from regular work to non-regular work.

“They are deemed unable to balance household duties, including child care with work in the office. So they choose to work part time while still carrying out the responsibility to take care of children and doing household chores, ” she said.

From this problem, Magdalena sees that there is a wage gap for female workers. Women who have children will get lower wages than women without children who work in regular jobs. It was due to differences in career path choices between the two groups. Women who have children choose to be at the career path as usual, which is the career path intended for working mother.

“They may initially work with career paths based on company specific skills, but after having children they move on to general career paths. Then, on the other hand, women without children choose to remain in the career path based on the same company-specific skills same as the career path for male workers, ” she explained.

From this phenomenon, Japanese women experience unfavorable work situations especially after having children. According to her, the majority of them must stop working temporarily to give birth.

“They will have difficulty being able to continue their careers as regular employees in career paths based on company specific skills,” she concluded.

Author: Khefti Al Mawalia

Editor: Nuri Hermawan



Dumauli, Magdalena Triasih, 2019. “Motherhood wage penalty in Japan: What causes mothers to earn less in regular jobs?”, Business and Economic Horizons, Vol.15, Issue3, pp.375-392.

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Media komunikasi dan informasi seputar kampus Universitas Airlangga (Unair).