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Against Intra-Household Exploitation

- philosophy and policy for equity within the family in Japanese context
TANAKA Sigeto <http://www.sal.tohoku.ac.jp/~tsigeto/>
(Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)
Paper to be read at East Asian Social Policy Research Network (EASP) 4th International Conference, Tokyo (2007-10-20)



(This is the abstract submitted to EASP at 2007-07-31)

Many workers quit job and have an interrupted career in order to take family responsibilities, while others do not so. This may be an injustice, intuitively. But how can we explain this injustice theoretically? This paper makes an attempt to find a solution in family law debates. The first half of this paper introduces a human/social capital approach to this issue. It explains that the injustice is a result of the difference in risks that derive from the family members’ investments in their human/social capital. Such difference is typically derived from specialization between wife and husband. It also points out that some assumptions in the family law disable marital economies from filling the gap in the risk. That is, since the family law requires a couple to enjoy the same level of living, share of profits upon the investment in a marital economy shall be equal, no matter how high risk one undertakes. The latter half examines debates about a reform of Japanese family law to remove the injustice. The material for our analysis is Suzuki Shinji’s (1992) writing on a new standard for financial provision on divorce. Which addresses fifty-fifty division of earning capacity gained during marital life and liability to pay training cost necessary to recover the earning capacity lost during marital life. The paper concludes as follows. (1) The state is directly responsible for the injustice in the family, because the law creates the injustice. (2) Human/social capital perspective is useful for understanding this question. (3) Japanese family law is developing to correct the injustice, although the feasibility of such development is questionable.


financial provision on divorce, marital property, human capital, breadwinner, housekeeper


This paper is based on the study supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (17710205), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan.

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