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Social Relationships in Metropolitan Areas


Theme Leader:
Erika Kobayashi, Ph.D.
Yoh Murayama, Ph.D.
Adjunct Researcher:
Shohei Okamoto, M.A.


Employment, Volunteer activities, Family, Local communities, Work-life balance, Intergenerational relations, Supporting younger generations, Health, Well-being, Survey of community residents

Major Research Titles

  1. 1.Identifying research issues for the promotion of work-life-balance in later life.
  2. 2.Clarification of the current state and effects of intergenerational support.


We aim to contribute to evidenced-based policymaking that conforms to social changes by collecting and analyzing data from large-scale surveys of community residents. In particular, we aim to examine issues related to social and family ties among older adults living in metropolitan areas from various viewpoints.

1. Identifying research issues for the promotion of work-life-balance in later life.
As the population is aging rapidly, promoting labor force participation among older adults has become an important political issue. However, paid work is not the only productive role that older adults engage in. They are also expected to engage in other unpaid roles for their family and the community, such as volunteering, housework, and caregiving for a grandchild or aging family member. Moreover, there are many older people who want to enjoy hobbies, educational activities, and social contact with friends. Thus, how to balance ‘work’ and ‘life’ is becoming a challenging issue in our society, not only for the young and middle-aged, but also for the old-aged.

While participation in the labor force may enhance the psychological well-being and financial stability of older adults, there is concern that the increasing number of employed older adults could cause a shortage of key players for community activities and also that the rising retirement age could make it difficult for older retirees to rebuild their lives after retirement. These problems are of particular concern in metropolitan areas where separation between residential and working places is large and neighborhood networks are weak.

Therefore, we plan to investigate the impact of elderly employment on participation in community activities (e.g., volunteering), and explore the measures necessary to balance work and these activities. In addition, we will try to clarify what level of participation in what kind of activities is beneficial to health and well-being, considering the balance between these activities. To address these challenges, we will analyze data from social surveys such as a nationwide longitudinal survey of Japanese people aged 60 and over (http://www2.tmig.or.jp/jahead/) and other social surveys targeting the middle- and old-aged residents of Tokyo and its suburbs.

2. Clarification of the current state and effects of intergenerational support.
The style of intergenerational mutual support is about to change dramatically due to the diversification of family structures and successional change in communities. For this theme, we will accumulate basic data on intergenerational relationships between older adults and younger generations and clarify the current state of these relationships. In addition, we will examine how support for the younger generations from older adults would affect the older adults themselves and the local communities.

(1) Intergenerational relationships in family
We will examine exchanges in various types of support as well as co-residence or proximate residence of elderly parents and their offspring. We will also focus on whether providing support to adult children affects future receipt of support from them (i.e., reciprocity) among elderly parents.

(2) Intergenerational relationships in local communities
Anxiety and isolation among child-rearing mothers are current social problems in urban areas due to the increase in the number of nuclear families and poor neighborhood relations. Thus, we specifically focus on “community child-rearing support” by older residents, which includes support for children’s security and sound growth, and emotional as well as instrumental support for parents. We will specify personal and regional factors that promote (or hinder) the support to younger generations and intergenerational exchange. Furthermore, we will examine the impact of the intergenerational support and exchange on the mental and physical health of older adults in consideration of individual differences, and also their ripple effects on local communities. Multi-generational survey data will be analyzed to achieve these goals.


  1. 1. Murayama, Y., Murayama, H., Hasebe, M., Yamaguchi, J. & Fujiwara, Y.: The impact of intergenerational programs on social capital in Japan:A randomized population-based cross-sectional study, BMC Public health, 19:156, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6480-3
  2. 2. Kobayashi E, Sugihara Y, Fukaya T, Liang J: Volunteering among Japanese older adults: How are hours of paid work and unpaid work for family associated with volunteer participation? Ageing & Society. doi:10.1017/S0144686X18000545 (First published online: 17 July 2018)
  3. 3. Okamoto, S.: Socioeconomic factors and the risk of cognitive decline among the elderly population in Japan. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 34(2), 265-271, 2019. doi:10.1002/gps.5015
  4. 4. Murayama, Y., Hasebe, M., Yamaguchi, J., Takahashi, T., Murayama, S., & Fujiwara, Y.: Reciprocity of the intergenerational support. Journal of Japan Society for Intergenerational Studies, 7(1), 15-22, 2018.
  5. 5. Murayama, Y., Yamaguchi, J., Yamazaki., S. & Fujiwara Y.: Characteristics of chronic stressors among older adults. Journal of Health Psychology Research, 31(1), 21-30, 2018.
  6. 6. Kobayashi, E., Nonaka, K., Kuraoka, M., Matsunaga, H., Murayama, S., Tanaka, M., Nemoto, Y., Murayama, H., Watanabe, S., Inaba, Y., & Fujiwara, Y.: Community Child-Rearing Support Scale: Applicability across generations and differences in the supportive behaviors among generations. Japanese Journal of Public Health, 65(7), 321-333, 2018.
  7. 7. Murayama, Y.: The possibilities and challenges of intergenerational exchanges in local communities. Japanese Journal of Gerontology, 39(4), 460-466, 2018.
  8. 8. Okamoto, S., Okamura, T., & Komamura, K.: Employment and health after retirement in Japanese men. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 96(12), 826-833, 2018. doi:10.2471/BLT.18.215764
  9. 9. Murayama, Y., Takeuchi, R., Yamaguchi, J., Yamagami, T., Kaneda, T., Tago M. & Fujiwara, Y.: Possibilities and problems of the intergenerational exchange in complex facility for children and elderlies. Japanese Journal of Gerontology, 38(4), 427-436, 2017.
  10. 10. Kobayashi, E.: Generational changes in social relationships among older adults: Findings from a nationwide long-term longitudinal study of the Japanese elderly. Japanese Journal of Gerontology, 38(3), 337-344, 2016.
  11. 11. Kobayashi, E., Fukaya, T., Harada, K., Murayama, Y., Takahashi,T., & Fujiwara, Y. : Development of the community child-rearing support scale: Measuring supportive behavior among older adults. Japanese Journal of Public Health, 63(3), 101-112, 2016. https://doi.org/10.11236/jph.63.3_101
  12. 12. Kobayashi, E., Liang, J., Sugawara, I., Fukaya, T., Shinkai,S. & Akiyama, H.: Associations between social networks and life satisfaction among older Japanese: Does birth cohort make a difference? Psychology and Aging, 30(4), 952-966, 2015.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000053
  13. 13. Kobayashi, E. & Fukaya, T.: Change in prevalence of elderly social isolation and related factors: Findings from the National Survey of the Japanese Elderly in 1987, 1999, and 2012. Japanese Journal of Social Welfare, 56(2), 88-100, 2015.