ESRI Discussion Paper Series No.315
The Determinants of Time Spent Studying for Children of Immigrants in Japan

Makiko Nakamuro
Associate Professor, Keio University, Faculty of Policy Management
Kenji Ishida
Research Associate, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo
Ayumi Takenaka
Research Officer, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford
Tomohiko Inui
Professor, Preparatory Office for the Faculty of International Social Studies, Gakushuin University


This study analyzes the educational achievement of immigrant children in Japan. Since foreign migrants began to enter Japan in large numbers in the early 1990s, their children, or the second generation born or raised in Japan, have largely come of age. A growing number of studies have pointed out various problems associated with the educational achievement of immigrant children, such as a lack of Japanese language proficiency, parental commitment to education, and of social support networks. Since most of these studies are limited in scale based on qualitative observations of a particular population in a particular region, however, we do not know how immigrant children actually fare in school and what explains their performance. Since past studies tend to focus solely on the foreign population, we also do not know what determines their educational outcomes in comparison with native-born Japanese children. In this study, we focus on school-aged immigrant children who have resided in Japan for at least ten years and are proficient in the Japanese language. Using data from a unique and nationally representative dataset, the Longitudinal Survey of Babies in the 21st Century, we compare the determinants of their school performance, measured by the hours spent studying at home, with those of their native Japanese counterparts. The results suggest that parental commitment to children’s education and support network are indeed important in determining the number of study hours for both foreign and Japanese children. However, once unobserved individual traits are controlled for, such as cultural views and orientation on schooling, motivation, and genetic endowments, parental commitment and support network are no longer crucial. What is truly important is access to shadow education, or extra-curricular learning, such as cram schools, private tutoring and distance-learning. Unlike what has been reported by previous studies, therefore, immigrant children under-perform academically in comparison with native children, not because they lack parental support or support networks; rather, their academic disadvantage lies in their lack of access to such extra-curricular learning.

  • 1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8914, Japan.
    Tel: +81-3-5253-2111