An Investigation of the Depopulation in Northeastern Rural Regions of Japan Based on the Conjoint Analysis Modeling Approach
Keywords:Depopulation, human relocation, social model, conjoint analysis
The aim of this work was to get some insight into the social model relying on the voluntary human relocation-generated depopulation in northeastern (Tohoku region) rural towns of Japan under the assumption that urban areas (big cities) function as attractor-type entities on young people. In order to achieve this purpose, a study on the basis of the conjoint analysis (CA) survey was carried out at a junior college, in which the respondents were questioned about the relevant factors taken into account to decide where either to sojourn or to reside in after graduating college. As a matter of fact, the surveyees, whose ages ranged from 18 to 20 years old, were all female students enrolled in humanities courses. These 129 participants were all from towns and cities in Tohoku region with the huge majority of these localities being officially classified by the government as â€˜under-populated townâ€™, and yet none as â€˜big cityâ€™. As far as the experimental set up is concerned, the analysis focused on six CA attributes of big cities, namely, â€˜jobâ€™, â€˜lifeâ€™, â€˜attraction (fascination)â€™, â€˜entertainment and shoppingâ€™, â€˜family reasonsâ€™ and â€˜encountersâ€™, each provided with two CA levels. These attributes and levels were then translated into appropriate question-type sentences and carefully combined to make up five questionnaires, in which two of them were composed by three attributes whereas the others by two only. Either case, the respondents ranked the four conjoint cards on each questionnaire sheet according to their preferences and awareness. Then, the data processing was dealt with manually on a spreadsheet software application according to the standard choice-based CA procedure. It turned out that, whilst the importance value yielded the predominant attribute over the others within the questionnaire suggesting an evaluation order of the factors to establish the domicile of choice, the utility values are rather likely to express how the respondents felt towards their rural hometowns. Finally, regardless of the fact that this investigation was limited to a very particular sample population and confined to a specific territory, the results still help us not only shed some light on the addressed problem but also figure out some directions to make rural towns more attractive to young people.
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