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Grant number like: FO-282996-22

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Hilary J. Holbrow
Trustees of Indiana University (Bloomington, IN 47405-7000)

Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan
Research Programs

$35,000 (approved)
$35,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 7/31/2022

Fading at Dusk? Gender and Ethnic Inequality in Japan’s New Era of Demographic Decline

Research and writing leading to a book on the effects of Japan's population decline on hiring and promotion practices in the white-collar workplace, with a particular focus on women and immigrants. 

Japan is at the forefront of global population decline. I examine the implications of this unprecedented demographic transition in the context of the Japanese white-collar workplace. I show that firms are hiring and promoting more women and immigrants, but that gender remains a deeper fault line than ethnicity. This stands in contrast to Western nations, where native-born women are advantaged over immigrant men. I argue that because Japan restricts migration for the purposes of low-paid work, Japanese women remain the face of the low-status workforce, reinforcing views of women as less capable and deserving. In contrast, Asian immigrant men are able to disrupt historical prejudices. By demonstrating that the composition of low-level jobs is more important for boundary construction and inequality than that of upper-level jobs, this study overturns assumptions about how status beliefs form in the workplace, and advances understanding of how shrinking populations will reshape inequality.