Books March 2011

Lost in Transition: Youth, Work, and Instability …

By Mary C. Brinton

Telling the story of the “lost generation” who have experienced the breakdown of secure employment patterns since the 1990s, this book looks at how the system that once channelled young people smoothly from school to work has come apart in the subsequent decades. The author argues that Japan is in the midst of drastic social upheavals that are changing its society fundamentally on a number of levels.

These are not simply changes in employment conditions, but are impacting the family unit and Japan as a whole, according to Brinton. She points out that whereas 90% of Japanese women once married in their twenties, the highest proportion in the OECD, this figure has also seen a higher drop in recent years than in any comparable country. Based on interviews with hundreds of high school students, the book shows just how much their hopes and expectations have changed from those of their parents’ generation.