Japanese families are experiencing a social role reversal, with many wives and daughters making up for the largest part of the income, while male workers are being pushed away from the job market.
Factories and building companies lay off workers and many service firms prefer women that they pay lower average wages. The new trend makes it harder for the authorities to spur consumer spending and pull Japan out of its decade long deflation. Moreover, working women have fewer reasons to marry and have children, in a country that already has the fastest-aging society in the developed world.
Manufacturing and building sectors, where seven out of 10 employees are men, will lose 4 million workers in the next ten years, according to Works Institute, a Tokyo-based organization. Health care, where three out of four workers are women, has been the fastest growing sector in terms of personal headcount for the last three years, data from the Labor Ministry show.
"With Japanese companies increasingly moving abroad and a shrinking population making growth in construction work unlikely, these sectors just can't absorb male workers the way they used to," explained Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai- Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo. "Nominal wages are falling and falling as a result. This 'mancession' is far from over."
An explanation of the trend is that Japan's economy is moving from industrial production to services. A very popular one is catering, a market with 29 million people over the age of 64.