Consolidation of Kindergartens and Nursery Schools in Japan:
46% of Respondents Expect the Initiative to Reduce the Number of
Children on Waiting Lists
February 22, 2005
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. (NRI: Tokyo; Akihisa Fujinuma, President, CEO & COO) conducted a survey via the Internet concerning measures to halt the declining birth rate and consolidate kindergartens and nursery schools on January 14 and 15, 2005. The survey revealed that while 68.2% of respondents answered “don't know” about the implementation of this consolidation, 46.0% of respondents consider that efforts to consolidate these two types of preschools will result in a reduction of the number of children on nursery school waiting lists.
To deal with the accelerated trend toward fewer children, the government will start model projects in 30 locations throughout the country in fiscal 2005 (starting in April 2005) to establish “consolidated facilities.” Nursery schools are primarily for children under elementary school age whose parents work, being under the authority of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. Meanwhile, kindergartens provide preschool education to children three to six years of age under the authority of the Education Ministry. The functions of kindergartens and nursery schools will be integrated as a measure to promote consolidation of the two types of preschools.
In fiscal 2006, the government plans to introduce such facilities nationwide. The principal purposes behind such a move include reducing the number of children on nursery school waiting lists, resolving a situation in which the number of children attending kindergartens falls short of the regular number, providing uniform preschool education and strengthening the support system for child care. This survey focused on what people think about the activities undertaken to achieve consolidation of kindergartens and nursery schools (preschool consolidation).
The biggest problem is that “child rearing requires a great deal of money”
To a question about problems in raising preschool children, more than 70% of respondents selected “child rearing requires a great deal of money,” followed by “shortage of facilities where children can be cared for” (63.1%). As such, the survey revealed that many people consider the economic issues and the shortage of adequate systems and facilities to be greater than the psychological issues as problems in raising children. Moreover, many people (56.4%) also consider “because it is difficult for people who are not working to use a nursery school, activities to find a job cannot be conducted satisfactorily” as a problem. Accordingly, attention must be paid to this issue as a matter that cannot be overlooked in pursuing work while raising children (Figure 1).
While recognition of the consolidation is low, 46% of respondents expect that it will help reduce the number of children on nursery school waiting lists
At present, recognition of the government's initiative in consolidating kindergartens and nursery schools is low, with 68.2% of respondents selecting “don't know” (Figure 2). However, with respect to measures to reduce the number of children on nursery school waiting lists and to deal with a situation in which the number of children attending kindergartens falls short of the regular number that are included in the purposes indicated by the government in implementing preschool consolidation, more than half of the respondents (52.4%) think appropriate for dealing with the current problem. Moreover, 46.0% of respondents evaluate theses efforts as effective” (Figure 3). A high ratio of people who selected these efforts are effective is seen among those who are married and who have placed (or want to place) their children under the care of nursery schools. This suggests that those who consider the issue of reducing the number of children on waiting lists as a matter more closely related to themselves place greater expectation on preschool consolidation (Figures 4, 5 and 6).
It is unclear if the consolidation would lead to a motivation to have children
To the question of whether the number of women who want to have children will increase if a better environment is established that enables them to both work and raise children, a high percentage (47.3%) of respondents selected “will remain the same” as opposed to 35.9% who selected “will increase.” If the 2.6% who selected “will decrease” is added to this figure, almost half the respondents consider that the implementation of preschool consolidation will not provide strong motivation to have children (Figure 7). As the reason for selecting “will remain the same” or “will decrease,” the highest ratio (63.2%) of respondents selected “the number of people unwilling to have children is increasing” as the cause (Figure 8).
In response to a question concerning the ideal number of children asked of married women who are in an age appropriate for childbirth, 44.3% selected “two” and 32.9% selected “three.” In total, as many as 77.2% of the female respondents answered that they want to have two or more children (Figure 9). Conversely, the factors for a growing number of respondents who do not want to have children include the “the number of women who give birth at an age appropriate for childbirth decreased due to late marriage” (59.4%) and “unable to have children due to economic reasons” (57.3%) (Figure 10). These results suggest that comprehensive approaches addressing the declining birth rate are necessary.
Little expectation is given to the improvement of educational achievement by the preschool consolidation.
After the implementation of preschool consolidation, the “consolidated facilities” are assumed to provide preschool education to children aged three to five years for approximately four hours each day. Providing uniform preschool education is included in the purposes of preschool consolidation. To the question of whether these efforts could contribute to the future improvement of the level of preschool education, negative responses were given by about half the respondents, with “will not improve the level” selected by 41.2% and “likely to decrease the overall level” selected by 8.0%. These responses exceeded “will improve the level” selected by 29.5% (Figure 11). In particular, this tendency was stronger among those who have placed (or want to place) their children under the care of kindergartens. These results suggest that people still have a greater expectation of kindergartens as educational organizations (Figure 12).
Nearly 70% of respondents do not want to assume the additional burden of funding the implementation of “preschool consolidation.”
For the promotion of preschool consolidation, studies are also necessary with respect to funding such activities. The required investment includes the construction of facilities and personnel costs. In our survey, respondents who selected “should implement it even if additional costs are required” were limited to 15.7%. In contrast, 52.8% of respondents selected “should implement it within the range that no additional costs are required.” If respondents who selected “should not implement it if additional costs are required” (17.0%) are added to this figure, 69.8% of all respondents do not want any additional financial burdens imposed to implement preschool consolidation (Figure 13).
These survey findings revealed that while recognition of preschool consolidation is low, many people consider that such measures would be effective in reducing the number of children on waiting lists. However, the number of people who consider that these measures would be effective for other purposes such as providing uniform preschool education and child care support is limited. These results suggest, first of all, the need to disseminate more information about the purposes and mechanisms of the implementation of preschool consolidation. The survey also revealed that the public wants flexible operation by incorporating the requests of the child care generation with a comprehensive approach to child care support including economic support and preferential treatment.
[For inquiries, please contact:]
Suirei Ban / Takeshi Nomura
Corporate Communications Department
Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.
Survey of Attitude on Consolidation of Kindergartens and Nursery Schools
Date of survey: January 14 and 15, 2005
Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey (infoQ)
Number of responses: 1,180
(For attributes and other details, refer to: http://www.nri.co.jp/english/opinion/nr/pdf/nr20050222.pdf)
Figure 1. Problems in raising preschool children
Figure 2. Recognition of consolidation of kindergartens and nursery schools
Figure 3. Effects and appropriateness of the consolidation for the current situation
Figure 4. Effects and appropriateness of the consolidation for the current situation (by marital status)
Figure 5. Effects and appropriateness of the consolidation for the current situation (whether or not respondents have children)
Figure 6. Effects and appropriateness of the consolidation for the current situation (by desired child care facility)
Figure 7. Willingness to have a child subsequent to the consolidation and enhancement of child rearing environment
Figure 8. Reasons for the increase in the number of people who do not have children
Figure 9. Ideal number of children and number of children actually wanted among married women aged 20 - 39 years
Figure 10. Reasons for the increase in the number of women unwilling to have children
Figure 11. Improvement of educational level by the implementation of consolidation of kindergartens and nursery schools
Figure 12. Relationship between consolidated facilities and place that parents want to send their children
Figure 13. Implementation of consolidation of kindergartens and nursery schools and funding
*This questionnaire was conducted utilizing the "infoQ" Internet research service, which is operated jointly by NRI and GMO Media and Solutions Inc. ( http://infoq.jp).
Copyright(c) 2005 Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. All rights reserved.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.