Social policy and childbearing behavior in Japan since the 1960s: an individual level perspective

Li Ma, Stockholm University

Japan is the first country in Asia that underwent noticeable fertility decline. Ever since the early 1990s, the Japanese government has initiated a series of pro-natalist policies in the hope of reversing the declining fertility trend. So far, research that tries to assess policy effect on fertility in Japan has most often used period total fertility rate (TFR) as a measure. The TFR is an aggregate fertility measure that does not depict women’s childbearing behaviors very closely. This study distinguishes itself by investigating the policy effects on fertility in Japan from a perspective of individual-level data. We investigate parity-specific policy effects through proportional hazard regression. The results reveal that the first birth trend has commenced to reverse slightly since the beginning of the 1990s in concert with the implementation of policies. We discover that it is the halt of the declining trend of the first birth rates among younger childless women aged 15-30 that has made an important contribution to this reversal. We ascertain that the impact of the policies since the early 1990s on preventing fertility decline among the younger childless women is a success and deserves confirmation. The elevating effect of these policies on promoting the childbearing intensities of older childless women, one-child mothers and two-child mothers is still invisible yet up until 2003.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 1

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