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Clarke Lecture

Each year the Clarke Lecture brings a star scholar to Cornell to deliver a major public lecture. While at Cornell, the Clarke Lecturer also meets informally with faculty and students from across the university. More about the Clarke Lectures...

"It has been exciting to help bring Japanese work on the law and economics of hope and hopelessness into conversation with American concerns about the social implications of the financial crisis. Here's an example of how the Clarke Program can add value by facilitating a new kind of transnational dialogue." Annelise Riles

"Jobs and Hope: Gone Forever? Cases from Japan"

  • Lecture Commentator: Stewart J. Schwab, Allan R. Tessler Dean & Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
 Yuji Genda

The 2009-10 Clarke Lecture was delivered by Yuji Genda, Professor of Labor Economics at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo.

Professor Genda is a labor economist and a noted public commentator on the problems facing Japanese youth. A recipient of the prestigious Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities, he is the author of numerous books and articles on youth, work, and the Japanese labor markets. One of Japan's leading public intellectuals, Professor Genda leads an interdisciplinary team working to solve societal problems by examining what promotes such intangible behaviors as hopefulness.

In his Clarke Lecture, Professor Genda focused on what his team's research shows about how to transform people's uncertainty and caution into certainty and bold action. Professor Genda related how Japan's economic slump of the 1990s had roots in the 1980s, when many banks failed and self-employment began to drop in most sectors, a trend that has continued. The 1980s also saw the start of fewer multi-generational households, more single-parent ones, a population shift from the country to cities, and greater poverty. In this context, Professor Genda and his colleagues have discovered that the most hopeful people, surprisingly, are more likely than others to have experienced serious setbacks and combine with this experience an ability to reflect on their setbacks frankly and with humor. Other qualities that correlate with a hopeful outlook include an attitude of playfulness and a narrative of what long-term success looks like that is shared across generations. These findings have a particular relevance today given the importance of investor confidence and hope to the stability and growth of global markets.

"It is impossible to transform uncertainty into certainty. However, we can change ambiguous uncertainty into clear risk by stretching our imaginations and articulating our uncertainties to face the future appropriately." Dr. Yuji Genda, Professor of Labor Economics, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo