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The effects of higher education on childrearing fertility behavior in Japan

Yuko Nozaki (Institute for Future Engineering, Tokyo, Japan)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




Cost-benefit theory cannot explain the inverse relationship between education and fertility behavior among developed countries. The purpose of this paper is to examine psychological factors in fertility decisions, focusing on the number of children and determinants involved in the decision to have three or more children.


Two empirical models were employed utilizing data from the Japanese General Social Survey of 2005 and 2006. An ordered logit model was used to examine how educational background impacts the number of children people choose to have. A logit model focused on psychological factors was used to investigate the effect of the burden of childcare on the decision to have more children.


The probability of a third birth declines as the number of years of education increases for women, but not for men. Women whose mothers were housewives tended to have fewer children, whereas women who live in families and are homeowners were likely to have more children. For women, the most influential factor in the decision to have a child was awareness of childrearing costs. Men from higher-class, higher-income families tended to have more children.

Practical implications

The analysis indicates that maternal leave or systemic re-employment support can impact a woman’s decision to have a child.

Social implications

The inverse relationship between women’s fertility behavior and education can be partially explained by the awareness among educated women of the duties and burdens of childrearing.


This study contributes to practical information concerning the role of psychological factors in fertility decisions.



The Japanese General Social Surveys (JGSS) are designed and carried out at the Institute of Regional Studies at the Osaka University of Commerce in collaboration with the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo under the direction of Ichiro TANIOKA, Michio NITTA, Noriko IWAI and Tokio YASUDA. The project is financially assisted by Gakujutsu Frontier Grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for 1999-2008 academic years, and the data sets are compiled and distributed by SSJ Data Archive, Center for Social Research and Data Archives, Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo. This research was partially supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), No. 16K01907,2016-2019.


Nozaki, Y. (2017), "The effects of higher education on childrearing fertility behavior in Japan", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44 No. 5, pp. 653-669.



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