Work and Pay in the United States and Japan

By Clair Brown; Yoshifumi Nakata et al. | Go to book overview

ployees) in 1990, 0.05 percent of women held the title of department head, compared to 2.74 percent of men, and 1.16 percent of women in these companies were section or group leaders, compared to 15.17 percent of the men. 28 In the labor force as a whole, 0.98 percent of women were managers or administrators, compared to 6.66 percent of men. 29 Gender segregation is also strong in highly paid blue-collar occupations, with men disproportionately represented in technician and other high-paying job titles. 30

For Japanese women, the trade-off between having children and accumulating experience and promotions also remains stark. In contrast to most women in the United States, many Japanese women leave the labor force during their prime childbearing ages (26 to 34), indicating a greater trade-off between careers and having children (Figure 4.11).

Improvements for Japanese women may yet occur, but they will require more than equal-pay legislation, which was enacted in Japan only in 1986. If the U.S. experience is any guide, the key elements will involve reducing Japan's gender-based pattern of occupational segregation and revising the current trade-off for women between childbearing and the ability to follow a continuously rising career path.


Summary and Major Findings

The pay systems in the United States and Japan are both highly segmented, but the divisions occur along different lines in the two countries. In the United States, JAM and SET pay systems for production and clerical workers are usually highly compressed, with small wage differentials determined mainly by seniority, within a context of interfirm mobility and interindustry wage differentials. Job ladders for blue- collar workers are relatively short, and while most companies have evaluation systems, appraisals are tied only loosely to pay. Blue-collar and clerical workers in large nonunion companies tend to have somewhat broader differentials than in union companies, but they still typically face relatively flat age-earnings profiles. College-educated workers are in professional and managerial occupations, with different pay tracks and steeper age-earnings profiles from those of production and craft workers. Gender differences in pay and promotion, while still important, have been diminishing.

The pay system in Japan is segmented along the dimensions of age, employer size, gender, and, to a lesser degree, education. The components of pay in large Japanese companies are life cycle (or age, with housing and family allowances), job- grade, and performance pay. Skill and performance are appraised frequently and are tied to pay and promotion. Nonmanagerial workers have career ladders with steep age-earnings profiles. There is no U.S.-style division between craft and production workers. High school graduates (blue-collar and white-collar workers) and university graduates (white-collar workers) are on the same published pay sched-

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Work and Pay in the United States and Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Comparing Employment Systems 3
  • Note 20
  • 2 - Security 21
  • Notes 61
  • 3 - Employee Involvement and Training 67
  • Introduction 67
  • Summary: Employee Involvement and Training in the Set Model 94
  • Notes 95
  • 4 - Pay Systems, Career Paths, and Earnings Inequality 97
  • Introduction 97
  • Summary and Major Findings 130
  • Appendix: Calculation of Standard Career Paths 132
  • Appendix: Calculation of Standard Career Paths 134
  • 5 - Employers and Unions 137
  • Notes 156
  • 6 - National Wage Determination in Japan 158
  • Summary 189
  • Notes 190
  • 7 - Conclusion 191
  • References 209
  • Index 227
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