Author Archives: ljs2k

Latest publication

Article on Japan’s Response to Declining Fertility Published in Social Science Japan Journal

My article, titled “The Policy Response to Declining Fertility Rates in Japan: Relying on Logic and Hope over Evidence” has come out in the Oxford University Press academic journal, Social Science Japan Journal 23:1 (Winter 2020).  You can link to the article here.  Thanks to Oxford University’s Nissan Institute for hosting the original version of the talk that led to this paper and for giving me time to work on it there in academic year 2018-19.

“The Slow Way Home” Screened in Europe

slow-way-posterSept23v2The documentary film “Slow Way Home” was screened at four universities in Europe during academic year 2018-19: the University of Oxford on November 23, 2018; the University of Hamburg on November 26, 2018; the University of Edinburgh on February 26, 2019; and the University of Sheffield on May 10, 2019.

The film was broadcast on PBS stations across the US in May and June 2016 and was screened at several campuses in the United States and in Japan in 2016-2018.


The way children travel to school structures daily life for families around the world—but differs dramatically.  In Japan, 98 percent of children walk to school every day, unaccompanied by a parent.  In the United States, just 13 percent of children walk or bike to school, and most are driven to school by a parent.

The Slow Way Home explores this divergence, examining how American families have largely given up on keeping our streets and public spaces safe enough for children, while Japanese communities have mobilized to keep their streets safe and walkable, not only for children but for everyone in society.

Seen through both a historical and contemporary framing, The Slow Way Home is an uplifting examination of differences in culture that provides both insight into a distressing trend in American society and simultaneously offers hope for change.

You can view the trailer and order a DVD via this site: Trailer

Residential Immobility affects Japanese Architecture

Just came across this interesting article by Alastair Townsend ( about how the residential immobility fostered by Japanese housing market structure propels young home-buyers to be incredibly creative in the architectural design of their homes.  Because they aren’t thinking of resale value, they don’t have to conform and can be creative.  Check out the wild designs featured in the photos that accompany the story, like this one:


For those of you interested, I’ve written about the effects of Japan’s residential market structure on the way people get involved in their neighborhoods here:

Comparative Political Studies article published!

My article exploring how Japan has been able to maintain walk-to-school rates of 98% for elementary school students–most of them walking without accompanying adults–has been published in Comparative Political Studies.   The article emphasizes the role that community volunteers (PTA members; neighborhood associations) play in maintaining the safety of public spaces and attributes the high level of local civic engagement in Japan to the absence of “exit” opportunities for parents of school children.  Local school districts don’t provide school buses, parental drop off is not allowed, and housing markets make it costly to sell a used home and move to a new neighborhood, so parental anxiety is channeled into keeping neighborhoods safe instead of being diffused into a scramble of individual exit strategies.  See “Residential Mobility and Local Civic Engagement in Japan and the United States: Divergent Paths to School,” Comparative Political Studies 46:9 (September 2013), pp. 1058-1081.

See the link to “work in progress” above to learn how I’m working to present some of the ideas in this article in the form of a documentary film.