Japanese Women Unpaid for $761 Billion in Housework

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Japanese women perform over ¥111 trillion ($761 billion) worth of unpaid household tasks, which is roughly a fifth of the nation’s economy, according to a Cabinet Office report. In contrast, men contribute around ¥32 trillion in unpaid labor, less than a third of women’s efforts. This staggering disparity highlights the gender pay gap issue in Japan and underscores the significant amount of uncompensated work carried out.

The calculation of the value of unpaid work was based on time spent multiplied by the average wage for each gender. Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, aims to address income distribution and reduce the gender pay gap as part of his “new capitalism” policy agenda. Economists point out that the low pay of women in Japan is one of the main reasons for stagnant wage growth in the country over the past two decades.

While Japan ranks fourth in the OECD for the gender gap in unpaid labor, with women working an extra 3 hours for free compared to men, the situation is still prevalent worldwide. In the U.S., women lose out on $627 billion annually due to unpaid caregiving work for family members.

If the value of women’s unpaid labor were added to their wages, it would nearly eliminate the gender pay gap. This would result in an additional ¥2 million per person for women. However, the pay difference remains larger among those aged 45-59, as men in this age group tend to hold higher-paying managerial roles.

Despite the increase in dual-income households in Japan, where women contribute financially, women continue to perform four times the amount of housework compared to men. This issue highlights the persistence of traditional gender roles and expectations regarding housework in the country.

Re-reported from the article published in Time

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