Who is the Greatest of them All? Generational Patterns of Political Participation in Japan

Who is the Greatest of them All? Generational Patterns of Political Participation in Japan

Rieko Kage - Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Tokyo

Friday, March 29, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
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Room 241, Rosenkranz Hall See map
115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Do generational cohort effects on participation differ between women and men of developed democracies?  Scholars concur that generational cohort effects are typically shaped by “formative experiences.”  Robert Putnam and others have pointed to the experience of mobilization during World War II as the “formative experience” that led the “greatest generation” to participate at especially high rates throughout the course of their lives, while others such as M. Kent Jennings have stressed the 1960s protests as propelling the particularly high levels of participation among the baby-boomer generation.  Still others have noted that individuals who come of age at the specific moment of democratization become more participatory than members of preceding cohorts.  But women and men may be differentially exposed to such “formative” historical events. This study draws on a longitudinal dataset that has recently become available, the Survey on Japanese Value Orientations (1973-2013), to examine whether, and to what extent, gender differences in generational cohort effects exists.  Age-period-cohort analyses using the cross-classified random effects model (CCREM) indeed yields evidence of different generational cohort effects between Japanese women and men, with the “greatest generation” marking the peak of participation among Japanese men but the baby-boomers participating at the highest levels among Japanese women.  This difference may be attributed to the fact that men have historically been much more extensively mobilized into the military, whereas women’s mobilization has been more into the “home front.”  The study points to the importance of considering different experiences that individuals who belong to different sub-cohorts may have encountered during their “impressionable years.”


Rieko Kage is Associate Professor of Political Science in the Department of Advanced Social and International Studies at the University of Tokyo. Her research is in the field of comparative politics, with a special focus on civil society, participation, and public opinion. She is the author of the book Civic Engagement in Postwar Japan: The Revival of a Defeated Society (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which received Honorable Mention as he Outstanding Book in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, and the Jury’s Prize from the Japan Nonprofit Organizations Research Association. Kage has also published articles in the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, and Political Psychology, among other journals. She is currently co-editor of the Japanese political science journal Leviathan. She received her B.A. and M.A. in law from Kyoto University and her Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University.

Sponsored by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership
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