Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 727–749 | Cite as

Living Arrangements and the Well-Being of Single Mothers in Japan

Article

Abstract

The goal of this study is to evaluate the extent to which the well-being of single mothers in Japan is related to coresidence with other adults. Using data from a representative survey of households headed by single mothers, we examine two measures of subjective well-being: perceived economic circumstances and self-rated health. One-fourth of the single mothers surveyed were coresiding with another adult(s) and it is clear that these women fare significantly better than their non-coresiding counterparts on both measures of well-being. Net of several theoretically relevant sociodemographic, family, and employment characteristics, single mothers living with others were significantly less likely to report somewhat difficult/difficult economic circumstances or fair/poor health. Efforts to account for potential endogeneity between well-being and living arrangements suggested that self-rated health, but not subjective economic well-being, is related to selection into coresidence. Single mothers in fair/poor health appear more likely to coreside with others and, accounting for this selection, intergenerational coresidence appears to be very beneficial for self-rated health. We discuss the implications of these findings for processes of stratification in Japan in light of the limited public income support available to single mothers.

Keywords

Single mothers Living arrangements Health Economic well-being Japan 

References

  1. Aassve, A., Betti, G., Mazzuco, S., & Mencarini, L. (2007). Marital disruption and economic well-being: A comparative analysis. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 170, 781–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abe, A. K. (2003). Low-income people in social security systems in Japan. Japanese Journal of Social Security Policy, 2, 59–70.Google Scholar
  3. Abe, A. (2008). Children’s poverty: A study of inequality in Japan. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  4. Abe, A. & Ōishi, A. (2005). Social security and the economic circumstances of single-mother households. In National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (Ed.), Social security and households with children (pp. 143–161). Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  5. Akaishi, C. (2011). Single mothers. In K. Fujimura-Fanselow (Ed.), Transforming Japan: How feminism and diversity are making a difference (pp. 121–130). New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York.Google Scholar
  6. Amato, P. R. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1269–1287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Amato, P. R. (2001). Children of divorce in the 1990s: An update of the Amato and Keith (1991) meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 355–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children—a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 26–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baydar, N., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1998). Profiles of grandmothers who help care for their grandchildren in the United States. Family Relations, 47, 385–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blank, R. M. (2002). Evaluating welfare reform in the United States. Journal of Economic Literature, 40, 1105–1166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brinton, M. C. (2001). Married women’s labor in East Asian economies. In M. C. Brinton (Ed.), Women’s working lives in East Asia (pp. 1–37). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bumpass, L. L., & Raley, R. K. (1995). Redefining single-parent families: Cohabitation and changing family reality. Demography, 32, 97–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carlson, M. J., & Corcoran, M. E. (2001). Family structure and children’s behavioral and cognitive outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 779–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Casper, L. M., & Bianchi, S. M. (2002). Change and continuity in the American family. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  15. Chase-Lansdale, P. L., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Zamsky, E. S. (1994). Young African-American multigenerational families in poverty: Quality of mothering and grandmothering. Child Development, 65, 373–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dalla Zuanna, G. (2001). The banquet of Aeolus: A familistic interpretation of Italy’s lowest low fertility. Demographic Research, 4, 133–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DeLeire, T., & Kalil, A. (2002). Good things come in threes: Single-parent multigenerational family structure and adolescent adjustment. Demography, 39, 393–413.Google Scholar
  18. Demo, D. H., & Acock, A. C. (1996). Singlehood, marriage, and remarriage: The effects of family structure and family relationships on mothers’ well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 388–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ezawa, A., & Fujiwara, C. (2005). Lone mothers and welfare-to-work policies in Japan and the United States: Towards an alternative perspective. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 32, 41–63.Google Scholar
  20. Goodman, R., & Peng, I. (1996). The East Asian welfare states: Peripatetic learning, adaptive change, and nation-building. In G. Esping-Andersen (Ed.), Welfare states in transition: National adaptations in global economies (pp. 192–224). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gordon, R. A. (1999). Multigenerational coresidence and welfare policy. Journal of Community Psychology, 27, 525–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gordon, R. A., Chase-Lansdale, P. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2004). Extended households and the life course of young mothers: Understanding the associations using a sample of mothers with premature, low birth weight babies. Child Development, 75, 1013–1038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gordon, R. A., Chase-Lansdale, P. L., Matjasko, J. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1997). Young mothers living with grandmothers and living apart: How neighborhood and household contexts relate to multigenerational coresidence in African American families. Applied Developmental Science, 1, 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Greene, W. (2003). Econometric analysis (5th ed.). Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.Google Scholar
  25. Haider, S. J., & McGarry, K. (2005). Recent trends in resource sharing among the poor. National Poverty Center, working paper no. 05–26. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  26. Hao, L., & Brinton, M. C. (1997). Productive activities and support systems of single mothers. American Journal of Sociology, 102, 1305–1344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hashimoto, A. (1996). The gift of generations: Japanese and American perspectives on aging and the social contract. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hertog, E. (2009). Tough choices: Bearing an illegitimate child in Japan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training. (2012). Living conditions of households with children and the work arrangements of parents, JILPT Survey Series No.95. http://www.jil.go.jp/institute/research/2012/095.htm (in Japanese).
  30. Japan Institute of Labour. (2003). Research on employment assistance to single-mother households. Tokyo: Japan Institute of Labour. http://db.jil.go.jp/cgi-bin/jsk012?smode=dtldsp&detail=E2003080006&displayflg=1 (in Japanese).
  31. Johnson, D. R., & Wu, J. (2002). An empirical test of crisis, social selection, and role explanations of the relationship between marital disruption and psychological distress: A pooled time-series analysis of four-wave panel data. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 211–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kojima, H. (1989). Intergenerational household extension in Japan. In F. K. Goldscheider & C. Goldscheider (Eds.), Ethnicity and the new family economy: Living arrangements and intergenerational financial flows (pp. 163–184). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  33. Koyano, W. (1996). Filial piety and intergenerational solidarity in Japan. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 15, 51–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kreider, R. M., & Elliot, D. B. (2009). The complex living arrangements of children and their unmarried parents. Poster presented at the annual meetings of the Population Association of America. Detroit, MI (April–May)Google Scholar
  35. Magnuson, K., & Smeeding, T. (2005). Earnings, transfers, and living arrangements in low-income families: Who pays the bills? Paper presented at the National Poverty Center conference on Mixed Methods Research on Economic Conditions, Public Policy, and Family and Child Well-Being. Ann Arbor, MI (June).Google Scholar
  36. McLanahan, S., & Percheski, C. (2008). Family structure and the reproduction of inequalities. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 257–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McLanahan, S., & Sandefur, G. (1994). Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Meadows, S. O., McLanahan, S. S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2008). Family structure changes and maternal health trajectories. American Sociological Review, 73, 314–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Meyer, B. D., & Sullivan, J. X. (2004). The effects of welfare and tax reform: The material well-being of single mothers in the 1980s and 1990s. Journal of Public Economics, 88, 1387–1420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. (2004). Report on public health administration and services. Tokyo: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  41. Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. (2007). Report on the 2006 National Survey of Single-mother Households. Tokyo: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. http://www.mhlw.go.jp/bunya/kodomo/boshi-setai06/index.html (in Japanese).
  42. Morgan, S. P., & Hirosima, K. (1983). The persistence of extended family residence in Japan: Anachronism or alternative strategy?” American Sociological Review, 48, 269–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mutchler, J. E., & Baker, L. A. (2009). The implications of grandparent coresidence for economic hardship among children in mother-only families. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 1576–1597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. (2011). Latest Demographic Statistics. Tokyo: National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  45. Nishi, F., & Kan, M. (2006). Characteristics of single mothers. Tōkei, November, 81–86 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  46. OECD. (2005). Society at a glance: OECD social indicators. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  47. OECD. (2011). Doing better for families. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  48. Ono, H. (2010). The socioeconomic status of women and children in Japan: Comparisons with the USA. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 24, 151–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Park, H. (2007). Single parenthood and children’s reading performance in Asia. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 863–877.Google Scholar
  50. Peterson, J., Song, X., & Jones-DeWeever, A. (2002). Life after welfare reform: Low-income single parent families, pre-and post-TANF. IWPR publication #D446. Washington, DC: Institute for Women’s Policy Research.Google Scholar
  51. Raymo, J. M., Iwasawa, M., & Bumpass, L. (2004). Marital dissolution in Japan: Recent trends and patterns. Demographic Research, 11, 395–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Raymo, J. M., Kikuzawa, S., Liang, J., & Kobayashi, E. (2008). Family structure and well-being at older ages in Japan. Journal of Population Research, 25, 379–400.Google Scholar
  53. Raymo, J. M., Iwasawa, M., & Bumpass, L. (2009). Cohabitation and family formation in Japan. Demography, 46, 785–803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sandfort, J. R., & Hill, M. S. (1996). Assisting young, unmarried mothers to become self-sufficient: The effects of different types of early economic support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 311–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sasaki, M. (2002). The causal effect of family structure on labor force participation among Japanese married women. The Journal of Human Resources, 37, 429–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schoeni, R. F., & Blank, R. M. (2000). What has welfare reform accomplished? Impacts on welfare participation, employment, income, poverty, and family structure. RAND working paper no. 00–02. RAND: Santa Monica, CA.Google Scholar
  57. Shirahase, S. (2009). Thinking about inequality in Japan: A comparative study of ageing societies. Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Suppankai (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  58. Sigle-Rushton, W., & McLanahan, S. (2002). The living arrangements of new unmarried mothers. Demography, 39, 415–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sigle-Rushton, W., & McLanahan, S. (2004). Father absence and child well-being: A critical review. In D. P. Moynihan, T. Smeeding, & L. Rainwater (Eds.), The future of the family (pp. 116–155). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  60. Smith, J. R., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Klebanov, P. K. (1997). Consequences of living in poverty for young children’s cognitive and verbal ability and early school achievement. In G. Duncan & J. Brooks-Gunn (Eds.), Consequences of growing up poor (pp. 132–189). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  61. Smock, P. J., Manning, W. D., & Gupta, S. (1999). The effect of marriage and divorce on women’s economic well-being. American Sociological Review, 64, 794–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Snyder, A. R., McLaughlin, D. K., & Findeis, J. (2006). Household composition and poverty among female-headed households with children: Differences by race and residence. Rural Sociology, 71, 597–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stack, C. B. (1974). All our kin: Strategies for survival in black communities. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  64. Takagi, E., & Silverstein, M. (2006). Coresidence of the Japanese elderly: Are cultural norms proactive or reactive? Research on Aging, 28, 473–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Thomas, A., & Sawhill, I. (2005). For love and money? The impact of family structure on family income. The Future of Children, 15, 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Traphagan, J. W. (2003). Contesting coresidence: Women, in-laws, and health care in rural Japan. In J. W. Traphagan & J. Knight (Eds.), Demographic change and the elderly in Japan’s aging society (pp. 203–226). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  67. Uunk, W. (2004). The economic consequences of divorce for women in the European Union: The impact of welfare state arrangements. European Journal of Population, 20, 251–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wade, T. J., & Pevalin, D. J. (2004). Marital transitions and mental health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45, 155–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wakabayashi, M., & Horioka, C. Y. (2009). Is the eldest son different? The residential choices of siblings in Japan. Japan and the World Economy, 21, 337–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wong, Y. I., Garfinkel, I., & McLanahan, S. (1993). Single-mother families in eight countries: Economic status and social policy. The Social Service Review, 67, 177–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhou, Y. (2008). Single mothers today: Increasing numbers, employment rates, and income. In Japan Institute Labour Policy and Training (Ed.), Research on employment support for single mothers, JILPT Research Report no. 101 (pp. 26–38). Tokyo: Japan Institute Labour Policy and Training (in Japanese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Japan Institute for Labour Policy and TrainingTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations