Project “An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of Work-Life Balance and Equal Opportunity Policies”

“An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of Work-Life Balance and Equal Opportunity Policies”

Key questions

  • Is work-life balance compatible with equal opportunity employment?
  • Do work-life balance and equal opportunity employment produce positive effects on human resource management?

Research Purpose and Approach

This project picks up two issues related to work-life balance support in companies and measures for equal employment opportunities, and conducts empirical research, including international comparisons on such matters as the current status, relationship and effects of both issues.

“Support for work-life balance” asks whether or not there are working styles and systems that allow people to continue working during various events in life such as childbearing, childrearing, and nursing care. “Equal employment opportunities” ask whether or not a company is a place where employees can actively work according to their motivation and ability regardless of sex. If the state of the human resource management of a company is measured by how far it realizes “equal employment opportunities” and “support for work-life balance,” it will belong to one of four types. At the time when the Equal Employment Opportunity Act was passed, its main objective was to allow women with motivation and ability to go on the same career path as men. In order to enhance opportunities for women to demonstrate their abilities, however, it is essential to improve “support for work-life balance” in parallel with improving “equality.” In companies where “support for work-life balance” is insufficient even if “equality” has been realized, the way men work based on division of labor role by sex should not be the basis for women seeking equal grounds, but men’s working styles must change as well. In order to realize “support for work-life balance,” the key will be to review the way men work, and it will be essential to change working style and management style.

By analyzing the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Science’s Social Science Japan (SSJ) data archive, datasets in overseas data archives, and other datasets to which project members have access, we aim to empirically illustrate the following: the affect of companies’ WLB support policies and equal employment opportunity policies on corporate management, utilization of employees, job behavior, and expansion of women’s work areas. We also aim to elucidate the management possibilities, such as supervision of work and working hours, through the implementation of WLB support and equal employment opportunity.

Research Activities

We chose the dataset that each of the participating members will examine for his/her analysis during FY2008 and started specific analysis from FY2009. We will link data retrieved from reanalysis made during FY2009 on “Employment Status Survey” published by the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications with other data analyses and publish an interim report during FY2010. As for understanding the current status and challenges of WLB support in companies, we hold close information exchanges with the Work Life Balance Promotion and Research Project (WLBPRP) that is carried out jointly by the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo and a private-sector company. Specifically, WLBPRP and we co-organized a debriefing session of research achievements in FY2008 and FY2009 respectively.




Project Leader

SATO, Hiroki


Professor, The University of Tokyo, Institute of Social Science

Research Fields







Name Affiliated Institution/Organization
FUWA Makiko The University of Tokyo, Institute of Social Science (Associate Professor)
TANAKA Sigeto Tohoku University, Graduate School of Arts and Letters (Associate Professor)
NAGAI Akiko Japan Women’s University, Faculty of Integrated Arts and Social Sciences (Associate Professor)
TANAKA Keiko The Institute for Research on Household Economics (Research Fellow)
MIZUOCHI Masaaki Mie University, Faculty of Humanities, Law and Economics (Associate Professor)
TSUTSUI Junya Ritsumeikan University, College of Social Sciences (Associate Professor)
NAKAMURA Mayumi University of Toyama, Graduate School of Economics (Associate Professor)
HARA Hiromi The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (Researcher)
SAKAMOTO Yuka Ochanomizu University, Graduate School of Humanities and Science (Research Fellow)
ISHIGURO Kuniko Bunkyo Gakuin University, Faculty of Foreign Studies (Research Associate)
HAGIWARA Kumiko The University of Tokyo, Institute of Social Science (Research Associate)
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