At Keio University, Professor Isamu Yamamoto, in the Faculty of Business and Commerce, is conducting research with the aim of designing appropriate systems for the labor market. To do this, Professor Yamamoto analyzes how human resources should be allocated to take into account diverse values among businesses and workers, and the relationship between work-life balance and workers' mental health and business performance.
Q. "In short, I'm researching ways of working. As an academic discipline, my research field is applied micro economics or labor economics. Regarding methods, in terms of theory or evidence, I'm using econometric and statistical methods based on various micro data of businesses and workers."
In Japan's current labor market, amidst changes in environment including smaller families, more old people, global competition, and low economic growth, it's become necessary to review Japanese employment practices, which were formerly considered to be highly rational in economic terms. Businesses are looking for ways to manage human resources and market systems while taking into account diversity in workers' attributes and values, and workers' balance between work and life outside of work. In this context, Professor Yamamoto utilizes a range of data in his research, emphasizing the relationship between businesses and workers.
Q. "A feature of this research, currently very popular in the field of labor economics, is the use of panel data, where surveys track individual workers or individual businesses for many years. Using panel data, we can track the same businesses and workers every year, and find out how they involved changed appositionally. For example, how the behavior of businesses and workers changed when government policy changed, or what things changed around the time of the 2008 financial crisis or the Great East Japan Earthquake. We can identify such changes with accuracy fairly close to 'pinpoint'."
Keio University is also home to the Panel Data Research Center. Since 2004, it has collected household budget data for approximately 4,000 households annually, conducting panel surveys representative of Japan. Professor Yamamoto also focuses on setting up surveys and testing theories using the data.
Q. "The meaning of 'data' in society has changed, with data emerging from all sorts of places. But in actual business, people are too busy for the task of deciding what to test and think about using data, and the same is true regarding policy. So, I think my role may be to use data academically to do lots of verifications, in so-called fact-finding, to say, "This is how things are right now," as material for deciding what to discuss, and what direction to take. If a lot of such material emerges, and it's based on objective data, truly relevant discussion will be possible. I think that might be one way in which my research can contribute."