Feminising the workforce in ageing East Asia? The potential of skilled female labour in four advanced economies

Loichinger, E. & Cheng, Y.A. (2018). Feminising the workforce in ageing East Asia? The potential of skilled female labour in four advanced economies. Journal of Population Research 35 (2) 187-215. 10.1007/s12546-018-9203-1.

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The populations of Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are ageing rapidly, triggering fears of labour shortages. In spite of the widely acknowledged importance of worker’s skill levels, traditional labour supply projections do not account for ongoing changes in populations’ education composition and educational differentials in economic activity. By focusing on the role of educational expansion in general and female labour potential in particular, this study analyses past trends and projects future labour supply in four advanced Asian economies. We first offer an in-depth overview of developments of labour force participation, emphasising each country-specific context. We then provide selected scenarios of labour force projections up to 2050 which consider changing population compositions by education and differentials in labour participation patterns. We find that due to continued improvements in education, post-secondary educated workers will make up at least two-thirds of the future labour force in each economy. If female labour force participation saw increases in line with the assumptions of our benchmark scenario, the share of post-secondary educated women could exceed 30% of the entire workforce by 2050. Hence, the pressing problem of labour shrinkage could partly be offset by particularly incorporating better-educated women. Our findings underscore the effects of different participation scenarios (especially of women) on the total size of the labour force and the importance of including the education dimension in considerations about future labour supply. While we are not the first to make the latter argument, we are the first to quantify this potential for the analysed four advanced Asian economies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Population ageing; Labour supply; Female labour force participation; Projections; Asia; Education
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 23 May 2018 08:27
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:30
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/15278

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