East Asian Languages and Cultures | Studies in East Asian Society: Japanese Families
E350 | 2137 | Cornell, L

E350: Japanese Families
3.00 Credits
Undergraduates only

“Why Do Japanese Men and Women Have So Few Children?” is the focus of
this course. While most people believe that high fertility --- women
and men bearing many children --- is the major world population
problem, many nations are experiencing the opposite problem,
below-replacement fertility (BRF)  ---- women and men bearing too few
children to reproduce the nation. This problem affects care of the
elderly, the ability to sustain a productive economy, immigration and
political pressures on women and men to marry and bear children.
Japan’s current total fertility rate means that its population has
already stopped growing and started declining. If current birth and
death rates continue, in 70 years its population could be half the
size it is now (65 million vs. 127 million). In 300 years there would
be no more Japanese people at all.

Part 1 introduces the sources of BRF in Japan, including the high
costs of education, ideas about the reproductive body, men’s work
hours, the burden of caring for the elderly, standards of housework
and childcare for fulltime mothers, gender role segregation in
marriages, opportunity costs of childbearing for women, insecurity
created by the disappearance of the lifetime employment system,
changes in household structure, the cost of housing, lack of daycare
for infants, toddlers, and preschool children, and male ignorance of
childrearing roles.

In Part 2 you will examine one of the causes in detail and write a
policy paper which uses scholarly evidence and statistical sources to
argue that that cause is the most important source of  BRF.

In Part 3 you will pick one of the explanations of BRF and develop
three potential policies for addressing it. You will create and
present a visual representation of the policy issue and of the means
of addressing it, suitable for a general educated population.

Project 1 and Presentation 1: 25%
Project 2 and Presentation 2: 30%
Project 3 and Presentation 3: 25%
Class participation: 20%