Social class and migration in two northeastern Japanese villages, 1716-1870

Noriko O. Tsuya, Satomi Kurosu

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the effects of household social class called 'mibun' on the likelihood of migration among peasant men and women from their residing communities, focusing on two farming villages in preindustrial northeastern Japan. Using the local population registers called 'ninbetsu-aratame-cho' from 1716-1870, we analyze the relationship between social class of peasant household and different types of out-migration for individual men and women in agricultural communities.We found large differences in landholding between households of titled peasants (honbyakusho) who owned land and those of mizunomi peasants who were in principle landless, suggesting that social class indexed the amount of wealth that a household possessed although considerable economic differences existed among households of titled peasants. These differences in household social class influenced the likelihoods of different types of out-migration of residents in the two farming villages. Regardless of reasons, mizunomi peasants were more likely to migrate out of their village of residence than titled peasants for both sexes. Further, the higher likelihood of out-migration among the mizunomi class was especially notable for male labor migration at the time of local economic hardships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-455
Number of pages22
JournalHistory of the Family
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct


  • Tokugawa Japan
  • family farming
  • household landholding
  • migration
  • social class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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