Why are women (and men) in advanced industrialized nations having fewer babies, and is there anything society can do to encourage more procreation Over the past three decades, governments have become interested in these questions as societies squeezed between an aging baby boomer generation and a shrinking base of taxpayers have searched for ways to 'cure' their declining fertility problem. Social science has not identified any consistent policy solution to this problem, but that has not stopped policy entrepreneurs from presenting available evidence in ways that promote work-life balance policies as the 'cure'. This article examines how Japan has adopted policies from this menu over the past three decades, in hopes of boosting fertility rates. The absence of a strong rebound, despite these policy changes, suggests that policy entrepreneurs have oversold childcare services and parental leave as the solution. What may be needed to increase rates, Japan's experience suggests, are far-reaching changes in norms governing gender roles, the demands employers can make on employees, and ideas about what it means to be a 'family'.
Schoppa, L. J. (2020). The policy response to declining fertility rates in japan: Relying on logic and hope over evidence. Social Science Japan Journal, 23(1), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.1093/ssjj/jyz046