Dr. Keiko HIRAO is a professor of sociology at Sophia University, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies in Tokyo. Her research interests include work and family, environment and sustainable lifestyle, and comparative family. She received her BA in American studies from Nanzan University, MA in international relations from Sophia University, and her Ph.D. in sociology from University of Notre Dame. She has written extensively on education, labor market, motherhood, and families in Japan, including three books for general audience. She is the author of Child Rearing War Front and chapters in Political Economy of Japan’s Low Fertility, Working and Mothering, and Thinking Body as Intelligence. Her most recent book, Invisible Hand and Invisible Heart came out in 2015 from Sophia University Press.
I propose to examine the ways in which maternal employment influences, and is influenced by, the strategy of families in the United States and in Japan to secure sound education for their children. In particular , I will examine how dual-income parents allocate their time and money for their children's education, and how parents meet the competing demands caused by trying to draw out children's talent and skills. While building upon a growing body of research on the family context of children 's well being as well as on work-and-family intersection, this research will provide an important extension of existing research on how the extra income provided by mothers affects the existing disparity of children' s life chances according to the socio-economic status of their parents. In both countries, children's educational attainment is increasingly dependent upon the wealth of parents and their willingness to invest in the human capital of their offspring. The family demand for children's education raises the family need for financial resources and thus will provide incentives for mothers to work for pay. I have done some extensive studies to test this hypothesis using prefecture-level data on juku attendance and female labor supply and micro-level time-use data of children in Japan. The two sets of analyses yielded striking similar results; the use of privatized education services and female (mothers') labor supply were inversely related. To further analyze the issue, I am currently working on the micro-level data of National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure . In order to develop my previous research in comparative perspective , I plan to analyze comparable data sets on household expenditure as well as the longitudinal data on family life and child development that are amply available in the United States. Explicit consideration of children's education and mothers ' labor supply is important, given the strong policy interests in the Japanese government to curb the fertility decline, to increase women's labor supply, and to introduce a market economy in public education. The results will contribute to our understanding of: (1) how the structural differences in educational systems affect the ways in which parents invest in children ' s education, (2)how the differences in the interplay between family and education affect children' s life chances, and (3)how the cost for raising the future generation is shared among the family, the community, and the government.