Innovations in Early Life-Course Role Transitions in Japan: Archived Project

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This analysis was based on Japan's 2000 National Survey on Family and Economic Conditions including 4,482 men and women age 20—49 throughout Japan, together with municipality-level data covering population structure and information about childcare centers. Four sets of analysis were done.

First was the analysis of life-history data covering the first 20 years before the survey. Role transitions such as completing education, becoming a worker, a spouse, and a parent, and moving out of these roles were examined in terms of timing, sequence, and interdependence of roles in different domains. Common patterns and innovative variations were examined in relation to background characteristics of the respondents and their earlier life-course experiences.

The project also explored the potential for diffusion of four types of innovative behaviors that are rare in Japan now: non-marital fertility, cohabitation, remaining unmarried throughout childbearing years, and use of childcare centers for very young children. This was done by examining whether a respondent knew innovators and what type of social ties the respondent had to the innovators, together with respondent’s background characteristics and life-course experiences.

Among the factors that affect the compatibility of working and motherhood, childcare is probably the most important. The project examined the potential for diffusion of the use of childcare centers for young children, an innovative behavior in Japan. The project also examined how well respondents’ perceptions of the availability, accessibility, and quality of childcare centers matched the actual situation, as well as how childcare experiences were related to respondents' characteristics and availability of childcare centers in the community.

A high level of tolerance for non-traditional behaviors can reinforce diffusion of such behaviors. The project examined how attitudes toward non-traditional behaviors regarding marriage, parenthood, and gender roles may be changing by examining the differences in attitudes on these behaviors by age cohorts and other characteristics of the respondents.

This project was partially funded by a grant from the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Associated Scholars

Noriko O. Tsuya, Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Economics, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

Larry L. Bumpass, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Related Publications

Tsuya, Noriko O., Larry L. Bumpass, Minja Kim Choe, and Ronald R. Rindfuss. 2005. Is the gender division of work changing in Japan? Asian Population Studies 1(1): 47–67.

Rindfuss, Ronald D., Minja Kim Choe, Larry L. Bumpass, and Noriko O. Tsuya. 2004. Social network and family change in Japan. American Sociological Review 69(6): 838–61.

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