2019 年 34 巻 1 号 p. 145-152
Japan is experiencing the depopulation of many rural areas due to the outmigration of younger residents, who seek higher wages than those accrued from local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, some rural residents appear to be relatively satisfied with their daily lives. Few studies have investigated variations among young residents’ attitudes toward their jobs and personal lives and willingness to remain living in or leave their residential rural areas. This study used open interviews with a group of rural SME workers as the basis for the creation and administration of social surveys among a sample of 220 young workers in Iide, Yamagata Prefecture, Northern Japan. Analyses of the survey results demonstrated that although most respondents were dissatisfied with their work salaries and positions, they expressed satisfaction with their residential communities. Participants who were more willing to remain in their residential rural area had a higher satisfaction from their leisure and progress at work, but also reported a lower satisfaction from their coworkers. Rural SMEs can retain more young workers in rural areas by ensuring a better work-life balance and empowering employees with a greater sense of responsibility.