Some 70% of Japanese parents with babies up to one year old would like to have more children, according to a recent survey. There were just 946,000 births nationwide in 2017, however, which is the lowest number since records began in 1899. What is the reason for this mismatch?
The survey, jointly conducted by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute and the Center for Early Childhood Development, Education, and Policy Research at the University of Tokyo, targeted 3,000 Japanese households currently raising children ranging from 0 to 12 months old. While 74.1% of new mothers and 68.8% of new fathers stated that they would “like to have more children,” 28.6% of mothers and 22.3% of fathers also answered that this would prove difficult.
Those who selected the “difficult” response were asked to select multiple reasons for giving that answer. Over 80% said that it was due to the cost of another child.
While 90% of households with an annual income of ¥4 million or less gave cost as a reason for not expanding their family, 68.2% of respondents making ¥8 million or more also gave the same reason. Compulsory education through grade nine at public schools is free, but parents apparently feel mounting pressure to provide a superior education through extracurricular activities and private schooling, driving up spending.
Some 80% of mothers responded that on their days off they would spend over 10 hours with their children, while only 25% of fathers chose the same answer. Looking again at the number of mothers who gave physical strain and the balance with work duties as reasons for not having another child, it appears that the burden of child-rearing predominantly falls on mothers.
In a harsh judgment on the current Japanese environment for families, just 9.3% of mothers agreed with the statement that it was easy to balance child-rearing with work and 18.3% that society was tolerant toward child-rearing.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: © Pixta.)