...it's too late for less male-centered policies...
A concurrent set of posts on the NBR Japan Forum is on the role of women in the labor force. At younger ages, the shift towards greater participation is dramatic, a 30 percentage point jump among 25-29 year olds. Participation for women age 30-34 is following in parallel, with about a 13 year lag:
However, this is less economically meaningful than at first glance. Women are not going to be able to save Japan from its demographic challenges. Of course it is these very same women who are not having lots of children. But more to the point, these young women are now the only daughters of an already smaller generation of women.
So even a continued increase in women pursuing careers — already apparent among younger women — will only have a modest impact on the shrinking of the labor force. There are simply too few in these age brackets, and the number is falling yearly. Hence despite the rise in participation, the total number continues to decline:
Policy changes could smooth things, and from a microeconomic perspective (and a lifestyle perspective) could bring many benefits, particularly to women. [For an amusing portrayal of the challenge of a stay-at-home father, albeit in a US context, see Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain. But from a macroeconomic perspective it's too late for less male-centered policies around the workplace and the home to make a difference.