Between Reforms and Birth Rates: Germany, Japan, and Family Policy Discourse
- Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society
- Oxford University Press
- Volume 18, Number 3, Fall 2011
- pp. 331-360
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This paper examines the development of employment-oriented family policy in Germany and Japan, two countries united by conservative welfare legacies and very low birthrates, through a close analysis of discourse. Why have recent reforms in Germany moved well beyond those in Japan despite remarkably similar "human capital" discourses? The relative strength of interpretative patterns—in this case, discursive patterns that successfully frame family policy reform as an economic imperative—and the role of employers are identified as critical explanatory factors. Further comparative attention is called to the role of the state as a guarantor of new family policy entitlements.