Boy’s sporting ambitions slide in survey as girls stick with the same favorite for the 21st year running.

Every year, Japanese insurance company Daiichi Seimei carries out a survey, asking children in preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools nationwide what they want to be when they grow up. The 2017 results of the most recent study, carried out between July and September, have just been tallied from 1,100 respondents, and contained a couple of surprises in the boys’ answers.

The number-one choice among boys was “scholar,” selected by 8.2 percent of participants. While scholar regularly shows up in the top 10 responses from boys, it hasn’t had the top spot since 15 years ago, in the 2002 survey (coincidentally 2002 was also the last time the top boys’ pick represented less than 10 percent of responses). Scholar received only 5.5 percent of the boys’ vote in 2016, and researchers credit the surge in the most recent survey to the continuing influence of Japanese scientists winning Nobel Prizes for three years running between 2014 and 2016 (Isamu Akasaki, Satoshi Omura, and Takaaki Kajita for physics, and Hiroshi Amano and Yoshinori Ohsumi for physiology of medicine).

Professional soccer player had been the number-one boys’ pick from 2010 to 2016, and before that baseball player from 2004 to 2009. Aside from scholar, soccer player, and baseball player, carpenter/contractor is the only job to have topped the boys’ list since 1989, doing so in 1998.

The most recent survey also marks the first time in eight years that professional baseball player (boys’ number-two pick) was a more popular choice than soccer player (their number three), as baseball enjoys renewed popularity after many years in the shadow of soccer, which generally has a fresher, cooler image in Japan.

Among girls, tabemonoya-san, literally “food shop person” but usually referring to a restaurateur, received 11.3 percent of the votes, making it the most popular choice for the 21st year in a row. Nurse, which occupied the top spot in 1996, came in second, with preschool/kindergarten teacher, another perennial presence on the top 10 list for girls, finishing third.

The complete top 10 for 2017 were:
● Boys
1. Scholar (8.8 percent)
2. Professional baseball player (7.2 percent)
3. Professional soccer player (6.7 percent)
4.(tie) Doctor (6.4 percent)
4.(tie) Police officer/detective (6.4 percent)
6. Carpenter/contractor (4.8 percent)
7. Firefighter/paramedic (3.7 percent)
8. Restauranteur (3.2 percent)
9. (tie) Architect (2.7 percent)
9. (tie) Swimmer (2.7 percent)
9. (tie) Train conductor/bus driver/chauffer (2.7 percent)
9. (tie) Chef (2.7 percent)

● Girls
1. Restauranteur (11.3 percent)
2. Nurse (9.5 percent)
3. Preschool/kindergarten teacher (6.9 percent)
4. Doctor (6.6 percent)
5. School teacher (other than preschhol/kindergarten) (4.4 percent)
6 (tie). Singer, TV personality, entertainer (3.4 percent)
6 (tie). Pharmacist (3.4 percent)
8. Zookeeper/pet shop owner/trainer (3 percent)
9 (tie). Dance teacher/dancer/ballerina (2.5 percent)
9 (tie) Designer (2.5 percent)

Some might point out that as noble a calling as “scholar” is, it’s not specifically a paying job, per se. Still, many would argue that it’s more altruistic than “businessperson” and more socially minded than “YouTuber,” the top responses in similar recent polls by other organizations, so there are probably a lot of child development specialists smiling at the boys’ top pick.

Source: Daiichi Seimei, NHK News Web via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)

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