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Fertility, female labor participation and income in East Asia

Yoko Nakagaki (JICA Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan)

International Journal of Development Issues

ISSN: 1446-8956

Article publication date: 3 April 2018




This study aims to apply two recently discovered relationships that describe fertility recovery in developed countries to East Asia: the U-shaped relationship between fertility and FLP (female labor participation) and the inverse-J-shaped relationship between fertility and income.


It uses a panel data set of 176 countries including 13 East Asian countries from 1990 to 2014. Pooled ordinary least squares, fixed-effects and random-effects models are tested.


The main findings are the following points concerning East Asia: The U-shape and the inverse-J-shape are confirmed, suggesting that fertility recovery could be realized if both FLP and income are high enough and increasing; in the region, the U-shape is peculiar. Lower-income countries’ data move from the upper-right to the bottom, whereas higher-income countries’ data move from the upper-left to the bottom; no country in the region has reached the stage where both FLP and income are high enough.


This is the first paper on East Asia to show the U-shape and the inverse-J-shape concerning fertility recovery and the peculiarity of the U-shape in East Asia. It explains the background of low fertility using the relationship between fertility, FLP and income.



Nakagaki, Y. (2018), "Fertility, female labor participation and income in East Asia", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 69-86.



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