A Puzzle of Happiness of Japanese Youth

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Tomohiko ASANO, Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan
This presentation challenges one puzzle of Japanese youth: why Japanese youth feels happier than before. The reason why this is a puzzle lies in the contrast between the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions surrounding Japanese youth and the rising rate of happiness among them. On the one hand, the rate of both unemployment and unstable workers among youth has been increasing since the late 1990s. 'Freeter' and 'NEET' have been hot issues in the mass media. Their parents also have been getting poorer and young people, particularly university students, can get much less support from them. Their life conditions have been getting worse year by year. On the other hand, however, the rate of young people who feel happy or satisfied with their current situation has been rising, according to some surveys. The time series survey by Cabinet Office shows respondents in their 20s are more likely to answer they are satisfied with their current life than before and than older respondents as well. The time series survey by the Japan Broadcasting Committee shows the rate of high and junior high school students who answer they are happy is soaring. Adding weak and strong affirmative answers, around 90% answer they are happy.
Some sociologists have tried to solve this puzzle. They proposed some hypotheses, but did not test any of them with empirical data. Two of well-known hypotheses are:
1) As they have a darker perspective over Japan and themselves, they feel their current situation as better than that.
2) As they put much more importance on peer relationships, they can feel happier thanks to their friends even when their socioeconomic conditions are worse.
In this presentation, I will examine what kinds of factors have an impact on their happiness or life satisfaction, with dataset collected in Tokyo and Kobe in 2012.