Family sociology is expected to play a role in clarifying problems related to the family and society and to present solutions in the face of the current decline in population. In this symposium, the issues discussed covered the transformation of family reproduction and reasons for the decline in fertility; measures taken to restore the fertility rate and reverse the population decline; and current issues and conditions in administrative functions and local welfare for supporting the family. The following recommendations were suggested as a result: (1) The need for society to guarantee “the right to get married and to give birth,” along with “the freedom not to get married and not to give birth.” (2) The need to develop values related to child-rearing and the expansion of employment opportunities for local secondary school graduates. (3) The need for a variety of actors, including the government, the private sector, local communities, and NPOs, to work together in child-rearing and nursing care.
Although the aging and decreasing population is a historical consequence of demographic transition, the real nature of the present crisis consists of the below-replacement fertility rate and the migration of younger members of society seeking higher education and better employment opportunities in large cities. Historical observation shows that an expanding lifespan and survival rates at reproductive age could minimize the risk of childbearing; but even if the theoretical fertility rate met the reproductive level, women’s views may remain unchanged. This made a timing shift that began in the second half of the 1970s and increased the age of marriage and childbearing, which escalated to the emergence of below-replacement fertility. Prefectural data for 2010 show a negative correlation between the percentage of those pursuing higher education at age 18 and age-specific marriage (also birth) rates at age 20–24, where most women are still in higher education or are newly graduated. In contrast, they indicate a positive correlation at age 30–34 and older, where they try to catch up on delayed marriage and childbearing. Thus the critical condition for the recovery of replacement fertility is to change the cost/benefit balance of childbearing toward a plus value in regional communities.
Although both Toyama and Fukui prefectures are located in Hokuriku and have many socio-economic indicators in common, Fukui has distinctly higher fertility rates than Toyama. Using micro and macro data, this paper investigates why that should be. My findings demonstrate that Fukui is exceptional in the amount of childcare provided by grandparents, the perceived child-friendliness of the area, and the perceived economic outlook of the area. Findings suggest that the amount of childcare provided by grandparents is determined by the child and by the gender-related values of grandparents. The perceived child-friendliness of the area is determined by the positive economic outlook of the area. The economic outlook, in turn, is strongly associated with the level of local taxation. The exceptionally positive outlook of Fukui was supported by the ample income deriving from its nuclear power plants and related industries. Finally, my findings suggest that it is women’s employment rates upon high school graduation that affect women’s age at first marriage. Toyama women have much lower employment rates than men upon high school graduation, which leads to the delayed timing of age at first marriage.
The familial structure of the Japanese population has changed owing to its low birthrate and aging society. As a result, personal social services in the public sector have become more necessary than familial support. However, limited financial resources and personnel have restrained the efforts of the national and local governments to promote the development of nursery schools, improvements in child allowance, and the construction of integrated care systems for strengthening public support networks. Further, to cover the incremental budgetary costs associated with the increase in social security benefit payments, Japan needs to secure stable revenue sources. There are also strong objections to increases in the national burden. In some cases, municipalities have started community development initiatives that were financially supported by the community and the private sector. Therefore, service levels are different across communities. Increasing tax and hence the social burden is unavoidable if society is to provide equal personal social services across regions, thus requiring public confidence and governmental morale.
This paper looks into the differences of attitudes towards supporting elderly parents among female students in six major cities in Asia. For this purpose, surveys were conducted among female university students in Seoul, Hong Kong, Nanjing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Tokyo. The filial expectations of mothers to the respondents were also asked in the questionnaire. Results showed that the respondents perceived that mothers prefer to be taken care of by their daughters more than their sons in all the cities. Secondly, a majority of the female students intend to give cash assistance to their mothers, except for the Japanese respondents. Thirdly, the attitudes towards supporting elderly mothers are not always related to the level of economic growth of their countries. Finally, hiring foreign domestic helpers is taking an important role in these countries except for Japan, whereas such private arrangements are quite common in Singapore. From this survey, we can see that the attitudes of supporting elderly parents are influenced by welfare values and cultures in these countries. Also, it is observed that the maternal lines are stronger than the paternal lines in supporting elderly parents among the major cities in Asia today.