40 , 2016-04 , Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration, Hokkaido University
Large regional differences exist in female participation across regions within Japan. This paper uses two datasets to show that a significant convergence in female participation occurred from 1940 to 2010. Historically, female participation has been low in urban areas and high in non-urban areas. The participation rate steadily and significantly increased in urban areas and, to a lesser extent in non-urban areas, and thus regional differences shrank over time. Microdata from 1982 to 2012 reveal that regional dispersion is large for married women’s regular full-time participation in the traditional sectors (manufacturing for the less educated and teaching for the highly educated). Compositional changes in demographics and educational attainment explain 74 percent of the convergence for those aged 25-39 years, and 40 percent of the convergence for those aged 40-54 years. An increase in non-regular employment accounts for 60 percent of the convergence for the latter group. Convergence in regular full-time participation by married women is only observed in the traditional sectors (manufacturing and teaching) and not in the new sectors (service and retail). Since the compositional change is the major source of convergence for young women's participation, their behavior across regions did not converge.