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Labour Market Reforms in Japan to Improve Growth and Equity


  • Randall S. Jones


  • Satoshi Urasawa



Traditional Japanese labour market practices, which benefited both workers and firms during the highgrowth era, are no longer appropriate in the context of slow economic growth and rapid population ageing. Reforms are needed in light of the upward trend in non-regular employment to break down labour market dualism and to encourage greater labour force participation by women, the elderly and youth. A comprehensive approach that includes improving the social insurance coverage of non-regular workers and upgrading training programmes for them, preventing discrimination against non-regular workers and reducing effective employment protection for regular workers would increase labour market flexibility and human capital. Moreover, such reforms would increase equity across different segments of the labour force. Drawing more women into the labour force requires removing financial disincentives to work, creating more family-friendly workplaces and increasing the availability of childcare. The labour force participation of the elderly should be raised by promoting continuous employment and abolishing mandatory retirement. More effective vocational training is needed for younger workers. This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of Japan ( Réformer le marché du travail au Japon pour stimuler la croissance et améliorer l'équité Les pratiques traditionnellement suivies au Japon sur le marché du travail, bénéfiques aussi bien aux travailleurs qu’aux entreprises en période de forte croissance, ne sont plus de mise dans un contexte de ralentissement de la croissance économique et de vieillissement rapide de la population. Au vu de la tendance à la hausse de l’emploi non régulier, des réformes sont nécessaires pour mettre fin au dualisme du marché du travail et encourager une participation plus intense des femmes, des travailleurs âgés et des jeunes à la vie active. Une démarche globale incluant une amélioration de la couverture sociale et une augmentation des programmes de formation professionnelle pour les travailleurs non réguliers, une exclusion des discriminations contre eux et réduisant la protection de l’emploi dont bénéficient les travailleurs réguliers permettrait de renforcer la flexibilité du marché du travail et d’accroître le capital humain. Les réformes devraient en outre contribuer à améliorer l’équité entre les différents segments de la population active. Pour attirer davantage les femmes vers la vie active, il convient d’éliminer les mécanismes financiers qui jouent contre le travail, en créant des emplois plus conciliables avec la vie de famille et en développant les services de garde d’enfants. L’intégration des plus âgés sur le marché du travail doit être renforcée en favorisant leur maintien en activité et en supprimant l’âge de départ obligatoire à la retraite. Il faut également offrir aux jeunes une formation professionnelle plus efficace. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE du Japon, 2011 (

Suggested Citation

  • Randall S. Jones & Satoshi Urasawa, 2011. "Labour Market Reforms in Japan to Improve Growth and Equity," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 889, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:889-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kazuyuki Inagaki, 2015. "Wage curve in dual labor markets: cross-sectional evidence from Japan," Economics and Business Letters, Oviedo University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 51-56.

    More about this item


    activité des femmes; contrats à durée déterminée; dispatched workers; dualism; dualisme; employment protection; female employment; fertility rate; fixed-term contracts; formation professionnelle; Japan; Japanese economy; Japon; labour force participation rates; labour market; marché du travail; non-regular workers; older workers; part-time workers; protection de l'emploi; taux de fécondité; travailleurs intérimaires; travailleurs non réguliers; travailleurs à temps partiel; travailleurs âgés; vocational training; work-life balance; économie japonaise; équilibre entre travail et vie familiale;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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