Born in Tokyo, historical demographer, economic historian, and Fellow of the Japan Academy, Akira Hayami was educated at Keio University. Subsequently, apart from a brief period at an ethnological institute, he lectured in economic history at that university until 1989–from 1967 as a professor. He has also held appointments at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (1989) and at Reitaku University (1995). He was president of the Socioeconomic History Society, Japan (1991–1994) and vice-president of the International Economic History Association (1994–1998).
His first publications were on the economic history of Tokugawa Japan from 1603 to 1868. Since then, however, his major contribution has been to historical demography. Hayami first applied the methods of historical demography developed in France and the United Kingdom to Japanese data known as shumon aratame-cho (census-type annual listings of households and population). He drew attention to the wealth of information contained in those micro-data that could be used in the study of mortality, fertility, nuptiality, and the size and structure of households over several generations. He directed the collection and analysis of local population registers all over the country, but his own work focused mainly on two regions in central Japan. His investigations revealed that even allowing for the serious underenumeration of births and infant deaths in the registers, mortality in Tokugawa Japan was not high while marital fertility was moderate to low. He also found significant changes over time: a secular rise in the mean age at first marriage and a trend toward smaller households, which he associated with the growth of a market economy and intensive farming.
In 1995, he launched an international project on historical population registers in five European and Asian countries: Belgium, China, Italy, Japan, and Sweden. The purpose of the Eur Asian project on Population and Family History (EAP) is to explore the ways in which pre-modern demography responded to resource constraints by looking at individual events in relation to the family life-cycle as well as regional circumstances. The EAP is planning to publish its research results in five volumes dealing with, respectively, mortality, reproductive culture, marriage, migration, and demographic systems.
selected works by akira hayami.
Cornell, Laurel L., and Akira Hayami. 1986. "The shumon aratame-cho: Japan's Population Registers." Journal of Family History 11: 311–328.
Hayami, Akira. 2001. The Historical Demography of Pre-modern Japan. Tokyo, Japan: University of Tokyo Press.
van der Woude, Ad, Akira Hayami, and Jan de Vries, eds. 1990. Urbanization in History: A Process of Dynamic Interactions. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
selected works about akira hayami.
Saito, Osamu. 1995. "Historical Demography: Methodology and Interpretations." In Historical Studies in Japan (VIII): 1988–1992, ed. National Committee of Japanese Historians. Tokyo, Japan: Yamakawa Shuppansha.