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2008.8.1 --- Open the website.

Research Purpose

Japan is suffering from rapid progress of aging society with low birth rate and decline of total population. It is becoming more and more important to promote womenfs participation in labor market (henceafter, WPLM) by improving relevant social system. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, rate of elderly people just exceeds 10%, but it is estimated to increase to more than 20% after 20 years, and even though the required age of retirement is 65 years old, many people retire earlier than the required age. As a result, serious shortage of labor force in the future is worried about. Because of such situation, even though rate of the employed women in the Netherlands is relatively higher in the world, promoting WPLM is further required. Under such circumstance, this study focuses on the influence of WPLM on urban system and examines what kinds of measures are effective to promote WPLM. To that effect, this study first explores better urban system for Japan based on the experiences of the Netherlands, and then examines whatfs going on, what should be done for the next step in the Netherlands. Since the Netherlands is one of the leading countries in the world in promoting WPLM, I would like to hold the joint seminar with the research partner in the Netherlands, Prof. Timmermans, director of Urban Planning Group, Eindhoven University of Technology. Holding this joint seminar in the Netherlands could provide the researchers from Japan with a good opportunity to understand and experience the policies promoting WPLM.

Research Methods

Even though there are many studies dealing with WPLM, our research method is different from existing studies. This study attempts to get some useful hints to break traditional role specification of man and woman in a household, which has been a barrier for women to start working. Especially, we focus on the relationship between woman and other household members, and her social network. First, using existing time use data and activity diary data, we apply the analysis methods incorporating inter-personal interaction mechanisms. Next, we compare differences of time use patterns between men and women, married women and single women, for married women, we further compare time use patterns between workers and non-workers. We also compare the relevant policies in Japan and the Netherlands.

Research Contents

WPLM leads to the increase of work frequency and working hours. As a result, it becomes difficult for women to perform housekeeping, pick-up/deliver of children and so on. This study examines the role specification of men and women, time use of work and leisure activities, car ownership and usage, children activities and other membersf scheduling behavior, ownership and usage of ICT devices and activity scheduling etc. It aims to understand, under the constraints of role specification, how household members adjust their activity scheduling, and clarify what kinds of urban and transportation policies could effectively support WPLM.

Research Plan

Since joint seminar is only allowed to be held within one week between April 2008 and March 2009, to well prepare for this seminar, we would like to set the seminar date at the late of the aforementioned time period. Concretely speaking, we plan to jointly hold this seminar in March 2009. To prepare for it, we will first determine the detailed presentation contents at the TRB (Transportation Research Board) Annual Meeting, which will be held in Washington D.C., in January 2008. Many of the participants to this seminar will attend this annual meeting (traveling expenses will not be paid using this budget). We plan to finalize the program in April 2008. For the research, all the participants will use their own budgets and available data. We will regularly check the research progress. First, we will have an intermediate check (review) in July 2008, when EIRASS (European Institute of Retailing and Services Studies) international conference will be held. Prof. Timmermans will organize this conference and I will also attend it (traveling expenses will not be paid using this budget). In addition, we plan to open a mailing list of all the participants and a homepage to facilitate the communication among researchers, by sharing and discussing the issues and research findings. We will also establish a database about research of WPLM. One of younger researchers in Japan will take care of management of this mailing list and homepage. By doing so, younger researchers could have some opportunities to make a close communication with other researchers. Besides, they can also have a comprehensive understanding of existing studies. After the joint seminar, we plan to edit a special issue at some international journal.