Labor Force Participation of Married Female Immigrants: Evidence from a Low Female-LFPR Host Country

Author Name LIU Yang (Fellow, RIETI) / HAGIWARA Risa (Meikai university)
Creation Date/NO. March 2020 20-E-019
Research Project Empirical Studies on Employment, Migration, and Family Issues of Foreigners in Japan
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The study provides novel evidence regarding labor force participation rate (LFPR) of married female immigrants, by examining immigrants who live in a comparatively low female-LFPR host country (Japan), which differs from previous studies which concentrated on immigrants in comparatively high female-LFPR host countries. First, the results indicate an important role of source-country culture in determining their labor participation rate. In particular, the two widely used proxies of culture, namely country-average social attitudes and LFPRs in source countries, significantly affect the LFPR of female immigrants who have lived in Japan for five years or more. Furthermore, both wife's and husband's source-country culture have significant estimated effects on LFPR, with larger estimates for the wife's than the husband's). This not only supports previous findings on wife's culture in high female LFPR host countries, but also provides new evidence on the effect from the husband's source-country culture. Other significant influences on LFPR of long-term female migrants include education, husband's education level and employment, having young children, living with 85- year- or- older family members, which are consistent with the theoretical model of labor supply. Second, controlling for individual characteristics, the study finds that female immigrants' LFPR does not decrease compared with their first few years in Japan, even though Japan has a lower female LFPR than their source countries. On the contrary, their LFPRs tend to increase above the levels of their first few years in the country. The study explains it as a larger positive effect from economic assimilation (i.e., adapting to economic opportunities and local labor markets), than the typical negative effect from cultural assimilation (i.e., influenced by negative attitudes towards women's work in the host country).