CSRDA Discussion Paper Series

No. 56 Rising socioeconomic inequality in telework eligibility: Evidence from before and after the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan
Ryota Mugiyama, Kyoko Komatsu
Ryota MugiyamaGakushuin University
Kyoko KomatsuThe Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGoal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Japanese Panel Survey of Employment Dynamics

Recent scholarship has focused on identifying which workers gained the option of telework during the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, little is known about how the spread of telework eligibility during this period is related to workers’ socioeconomic backgrounds. This study examines changes in socioeconomic inequality in workers’ telework eligibility by analyzing Japanese panel survey data from January 2020 to January 2022. The results show that workers with a higher social class, income, and level of education had a greater increase in telework eligibility than their counterparts. While the expansion of socioeconomic gradients in telework eligibility was partly attributable to differences in workers’ tasks being suitable for telework, it was not fully accounted for by task differences. We argue that request-based telework introduction during the COVID-19 period in Japan may have resulted in increasing socioeconomic inequalities in telework eligibility across workers.