Very low fertility and policy responses in Japan: an overview of recent research covering the last two decades
Ryuzaburo Sato, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan
Motomi Beppu, Reitaku University
Since the late 1970s, Japan’s total fertility rate has been below the replacement level (about 2.1 children per woman), and has remained below 1.5 since 1995. After the turning point of the “1.57 shock” in 1990, the Japanese government introduced a string of policy measures, which included upgrading child-support allowances and childcare services, instituting and promoting childcare leave, promoting gender equality, and supporting young people’s employment. However, there have been no signs of a recovery in fertility so far. In this paper, we exhaustively review recent research on the causes of very low fertility in Japan and policy measures implemented by the government since the 1990s, and shed light on some new viewpoints. We stress the importance of cultural background in searching for the causalities, and propose a reorganization of public policies around family policies in a broad sense.