Friday news roundup August 3, 2018

Friday news roundup August 3, 2018

A Japanese medical school rigged exam scores to keep the ratio of female students low. Officials at Tokyo Medical University have systemically reduced the entrance exam scores of female applicants since 2010, to keep the ratio of female students at the university below 30% for any given year, according to an article in The Asahi Shimbun. In this year’s entrance exam process, only 30 women were accepted, compared to 141 men. There is a continuing shortage of doctors in Japan and a source explained the reasoning behind the move as relating to women eventually dropping out of the workforce to give birth and raise children. An internal investigation is currently underway. 

Doubt created by Brexit is causing Romanian workers to turn their backs on UK farms. The weak pound and strong economies elsewhere in Europe have made the UK a less enticing prospect for seasonal staff. Long reliant on seasonal labor from eastern Europe, British farms have found in recent years that those workers have overwhelmingly come from newer EU member states like Romania and Bulgaria. But Romania’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in 25 years, with the economy having grown by 7% in 2017, the fastest rate in the EU. Bulgaria’s unemployment rate has also been dropping steadily. While many eastern Europeans are still leaving home to take up seasonal work, they are going elsewhere on the continent, where wages are often higher.

China's two-child policy is having unintended consequences for female employment. The Chinese government announced in late 2015 that it was relaxing its one-child policy after 35 years, fearing that a shrinking population will hamper economic growth. However, the two-child policy that replaced it may have had unintended consequences for Chinese women. A survey carried out by an employment website found that 75% of companies were more reluctant to hire women after the two-child policy took effect as they did not wish to pay for multiple maternity leaves. Many women are also now being asked personal questions about their relationship status and their plans for having a family in job interviews. Whilst China has laws against sex discrimination, enforcement is lax. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch said that executives have “zero fear” of punishment. 

France adopted a controversial asylum and immigration law. On August 1, France’s parliament signed into law a controversial asylum and immigration bill, despite opposition from the left and the far right. The Senate rejected the bill on July 31, but the lower house passed it as President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche holds a large majority. The bill cuts the maximum processing time for asylum applications from 120 to 90 days, with the intention being to accelerate asylum procedures. The bill also cuts the time limit for making an asylum claim from 11 months to six, while facilitating both the expulsion of those who are rejected and the acceptance of those whose bids succeed. The political left condemned the move as an effort to limit arrivals while the far right felt the measure did not go far enough.

Find related IZA World of Labor papers on female labor force participation and migration.