Family dynamics: Establishing an on-site facility for accessing Japanese data for comparative research in Japan and UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Sociology


This project will make a pioneering effort in setting up an onsite facility that will enable researchers to access data collected by the Statistics Bureau of Japan in Oxford. The data includes, but is not limited to such surveys as Labour Force Survey, Population Census, National Consumption Survey, Employment Status Survey, National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure, and Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities. This is the first time when such data is being made available outside Japan and having such a facility will create a unique opportunity for UK and EU researchers across a number of academic disciplines (e.g. labour economics, demography, sociology) to use this data. Access to this collection of high-quality data will certainly lead to an increased interest in doing research on Japan among quantitative sociologists, economists, demographers and all social scientists at all career stages. We expect that this new data availability will encourage graduate students to choose Japan as their case study, ultimately leading to the rise in Japan specialists in the UK in the future generation of academics.

The high quality of the data collected by the Statistics Bureau, and the fact that format of at least some of the surveys relies on the internationally accepted survey design mean that enabling researchers outside Japan, especially UK researchers, to access this data is also likely to lead to a rise in comparative research and collaborations between Japanese and UK researchers.

With this project, we aim to spearhead such collaboration in the field of gender and time use. We will invite several Japanese colleagues to the UK to collaborate using Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities. During their visit, we will organise a workshop to enable them to showcase their research and at the same time demonstrate the possibilities that access to the onsite facility in Oxford opens to UK researchers. This project will also be a showcase of research programmes:

(a) Gender inequalities in domestic division labour and leisure activities in Japan
This study will analyze data of the Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities, National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure, The Labor Force Survey, and Population Census to investigate gender differences in the participating types and social contexts of domestic work and care work in Japan between 1981 and 2011 and put our findings on Japan into comparative perspective using time use data from the UK.

(b) "Time use" of single mothers: Another look at poverty and social exclusion in Japan
Using the data of the Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities, this project will provide statistically reliable insights into time use of Japanese single mothers and investigate the problems of "time poverty" that single mothers are facing.

(c) Consequences of "Welfare-to-Work" Policies for Time Use of Single Mothers: A Comparison between the UK and Japan
This study will evaluate impacts of the welfare-to-work policy reforms on the time use of single mothers in the UK and Japan, using data from The Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities for Japan and Time Use Survey for the UK.

(d) Family Formation and Time Allocation in Great Britain and Japan
This study will examine the dynamics of women's and men's paid work time and housework time during the formation and development of families as well as changes in those dynamics.

(e) Married Women's Labour Market Conditions and Transition to Motherhood in Japan
This study will explore how the gendered labour market is associated with women's fertility behaviour in Japan. It will examine whether and how Japanese women's employment status and workplace conditions (part-time/full-time employment, industrial sex segregation, corporation size, occupation) at the point of marriage correlate with their transition to first childbirth.

Planned Impact

The project will create an exciting opportunity for researchers to access data collected by Statistics Bureau of Japan. This achievement will have great academic and real-world importance. First and foremost, the project will benefit researchers in academia, NGOs and government, by enabling a much broader audience outside Japan to access the data collected by Japan's Statistical Bureau. The data are characterised by large samples and cover a long period of time. It will enable future generations of quantitative researchers in the UK to choose Japan as their research subjects. At the moment difficulties with data access discourage many researchers and graduate students from doing so.
The project's PI has extensive experience with media outreach and with joint research and policy work with national and international organizations. She and the Co-Is will be assisted by the Public Affairs Directorate at the University of Oxford in dissemination activities.

We will organise a panel event and a users' workshop to enable Japanese colleagues from the Statistics Bureau and National Statistics Centre to present the data that would be made available through the onsite facility to UK researchers. We will also foster links between UK researchers and key individuals at the Japanese Statistics Bureau who are involved in devising future surveys creating feedback loops for the researchers that will have a substantial impact on the future data quality and comparability. To give one example, the design of the Japanese time use surveys is different from the UK and European ones. The Japan time use surveys (Surveys on Time Use and Leisure Activities) have collected diaries on two consecutive days rather than one weekday and one weekend day as the case of European surveys. This creates barriers to comparative research between Japan and European countries and also undermines the observations of weekly activities patterns in the case of Japan. Experts in time use research will exchange ideas in the panel event. The improvement in data quality can, in turn, enhance the quality of the policy-focused research.

The project will deepen UK-Japanese research links and foster new research collaborations between the two countries. Current difficulties in data access mean that Japan remains at the margins of international research and policy debates when it comes to many research topics, including the themes outlined on the Case for Support. Research in these areas has almost never been able to make use of East Asian data sources. Yet, East Asian societies are known to follow their own trajectory in modern times. As researchers benefit from the more accessible Japanese data their papers will throw new light on a wide range of social science studies such as those on low fertility and the gender division of labour. The findings' relevance will go beyond academic and will have direct relevance for policy-makers. This project will engage in systematic outreach with the UK and Japanese policy-makers, inviting them to the workshop we plan to organise, and at the workshop and panels planned by our collaborators in Japan, and publicising our findings via the GenTime website. Through these activities, we expect to contribute to evidence-based policymaking and better and more accountable public policy in both countries.
Description Is a more egalitarian division of labour between spouses associated with lower fertility in the UK? From 1991 to 2017, the positive, reciprocal association between the traditional division of labor and fertility has been significantly weakening over time. Couples are less likely to adopt the male-breadwinner model when they have more children, and couples who adopt the male-breadwinner model are no longer more likely to have a new child from 2009 onwards.

How is husbands' housework participation related to fertility in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan? In both 2006 and 2012, the husband's participation in housework is associated with both own and partner's fertility intentions in 2006 and 2012. The association between the domestic division of labour and fertility has not changed between 2006 and 2012.

How is housework allocation related to educational level in Japan? We analyze cross-sectional time-use diaries from the 2011 and 2016 Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities (Shakai Seikatsu Kihon Chosa) to investigate the association between educational level and housework participation in contexts where educational attainment among women does not readily translate into workforce stability. We test whether higher levels of educational attainment are associated with the decrease in housework participation as the previous research in countries of the global north suggests. Our findings reveal that education is not likely to reduce housework participation among Japanese women. Married Japanese women with children are unlikely to reduce their time spent on housework with the increase of their educational level and married Japanese women without children are more likely to increase their housework participation proportionately to the level of their education. The results suggest that in Japan, the supply-side solutions to gender inequality (such as increasing educational opportunities for women) do not remedy the situation. The country needs to address structural and institutional barriers to gender equality.
Exploitation Route We presented the findings in conferences in the Statistics Bureau Japan and a symposium at University of Oxford. In both events, participants included government officers and policy-makers.
Sectors Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description We organised a symposium about Japanese survey data in Oxford in January 2020. Representatives from the National Statistics Center, Japan and academics gave talks in the symposium. The event was attended by academics, Japan Embassy representatives and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. A preliminary agreement was made about the establishment of an onsite data facility at the University of Oxford, which would make Japanese survey data available to UK based researchers.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

Description Hitotsubashi University: - Joint Usage and Research Center programs at IER Funding
Amount ¥1,000,000 (JPY)
Organisation Hitotsubashi University 
Sector Academic/University
Country Japan
Start 04/2020 
End 03/2021
Description Collaboration between Department of Sociology, University of Oxford and Hitotsubashi University 
Organisation Hitotsubashi University
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team contributed to the signing of a memorandum of collaboration between the Department of Sociology, University and Hitotsubashi University. Such agreements will facilitate the exchange of researchers and research collaboration between the two institutions.
Collaborator Contribution Hitotsubashi University will provide access to the onsite data facility and research support to the team members so that we can analyse Japanese survey data in Tokyo.
Impact We have produced several working papers based on Japanese data, including: Kolpashnikova, K., Kan, M.Y., and Shirakawa, K. (2019). Marriage Penalty: Unconditional Quantile Regression of Housework Participation in Japan. No 695, Discussion Paper Series from the Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University Kolpashnikova, K., Kan, M.Y., and K. Shirakawa (2019) "Marriage and Housework: Analyzing the Effects of Education Using the 2011 and 2016 Japanese Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities, No 696, Discussion Paper Series A from Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University. Hertog, E., M.Y. Kan, K. Shirakawa & R. Chiba (2018) "Do Better-Educated Couples Share Domestic Work More Equitably in Japan? It Depends on the Day of the Week" No 673, Discussion Paper Series from Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University
Start Year 2019
Description Collaboration with National Institute of Population and Social Security Research 
Organisation National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (NIPSSR) Tokyo
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have invited representatives of NIPSSR to visit us to discuss research collaboration in Oxford. Dr Shohei Yoda has been an academic visitor at Department of Sociology, Unversity of Oxford for 12 months since July 2019. Dr Setsuya Fukuda visited Oxford for 2 weeks in January 2020. We have collaborated on data analysis and research papers. We have already agreed on further collaboration, including possible access to data of NIPSSR for future research.
Collaborator Contribution NIPSSR organised a meeting with our team to discuss collaboration in Tokyo in March 2020. Unfortunately, the meeting has been postponed due to the spread of COVID-19.
Impact Several working papers based on Japanese data have been produced.
Start Year 2019