Harnessing Women’s Potential as a Soft Engine for Growth – Lessons from Contrasting Trajectories between Finland and Japan for Growing Economies
Harnessing the vigor of women’s potential is essential for inclusive economic growth in a digital economy moving toward aging society. This can be a soft engine for sustainable growth substitutable for costly hard investment. While there exists explicit evidence of a virtual cycle between economic growth and gender balance improvement, emerging countries cannot afford to overcome the constraints of low income. Given the foregoing, this paper analyzed possible co-evolution between economic growth, gender balance improvement and digital innovation initiated by information and communication technology (ICT) advancement. Using a unique dataset representing the state of gender balance improvement in the function of economic growth and ICT advancement, an empirical numerical analysis of 44 countries was attempted. These countries were classified as emerging, industrialized and with a specific culture. It was found that while industrialized countries, typically Finland, have realized high performance in co-evolution, emerging countries have been constrained by low ICT advancement, and countries with a specific culture have, notwithstanding their high economic level, also been constrained by a traditional male-dominated culture. Japan is a typical case. Based on these findings, lessons from contrasting trajectories between Finland and Japan for emerging countries were analyzed. It is suggested that advancement of ICT, not only quantitatively but also qualitatively in such a way as constructing a self-propagating system, is crucial for emerging countries. A new practical approach for harnessing the potential resources for sustainable growth was thus explored.
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