01/02/2000

Creating Housing Environments That Are Coducive to Raising Children- Yokohama Survey Results-

Masumi Shiraishi 

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1.Introduction

Along with aging, the declining birth rate has been discussed extensively as a phenomenon ofmodern day society. Japan’s total fertility rate, in steady decline since the late 1970s, isalready well below what is needed to maintain the population level (the population replacementlevel) of 2.08 children. (1)As of 1997, the national average stood at 1.39 children.

The decline in children has been particularly pronounced in metropolitan areas. Along withthe poor child raising environment and financial difficulties, couples invariably cite crampedand expensive housing in metropolitan areas as a reason for not having more children.

Japan's housing construction situation is said to have shifted from an era of quantity to one ofquality in 1968, when the number of total dwellings surpassed that of households for the firsttime. Housing for the elderly has already received much attention, leading to a greater diversityof alternatives being offered. However, a dialogue has yet to be started regarding ways toimprove housing and community environments so that raising children becomes less of a burden.

The decision to have children is an individual right, which the government must not infringeon by intervening too deeply. But if we find that people are deciding against having more childrenbecause of factors as fundamental as their housing situation, something clearly needs tobe done to alleviate the problem.

This paper examines the housing situation in a metropolitan area among families raising children,and identifies their needs with regard to the housing and community environment.

Masumi Shiraishi

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