Immigrant–native Differentials in Commuting and Residential Preferences in Japan

Author Name LIU Yang (Fellow, RIETI) / KONDO Keisuke (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. August 2023 23-E-057
Research Project Empirical studies on issues of foreign employment and technology progress in a society with a persistent labor shortage
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Several studies have examined immigrants’ labor force participation and economic outcomes and highlighted immigrants’ geographic behaviors in host countries; however, Japanese cases remain unexplored. This study provides novel evidence of the immigrant–native differentials in commuting and residential preferences in Japan. This study uses individual data from the 2010 Population Census. Controlling for individual characteristics, employment status, regions, industries, and occupations, we observe that the gender gap in commuting distance is much smaller for immigrants than for the Japanese natives. Among married couples, male immigrants commute significantly shorter distances than native males. No significant differences exist in commuting distance between female immigrants and natives. While analyzing residential preferences, we find that immigrants who have lived in Japan for 5 years or more tend to reside in areas with a higher population density than those who have lived for less than 5 years. Immigrant–native differentials in residential preferences differ according to home countries. The result contributes to the literature on immigrant economic integration. Further, it provides empirical evidence for policies that address the labor shortage problem in Japan.