Single Mothers and Poverty in Japan: The Role of Intergenerational Coresidence

Sawako Shirahase, The University of Tokyo

We examine the role of intergenerational coresidence in shaping the economic well-being of single mothers in Japan. Using data from a large national survey, we begin by demonstrating that the “official” poverty rate for single mothers (which is based on those living alone) overstates the poverty rate of all single mothers by about 50%. We then show that the poverty rate of mothers would have declined if the prevalence and poverty rates of single-mother families had not increased in recent years. Finally, we demonstrate that 90% of single-mothers coresiding with parents would fall below the poverty line without the shared income of parents and show that public income support plays a very small role in limiting poverty among single-mothers. These results have important implications for understanding poverty and inequality in Japan and other countries like the U.S. where public support for families is limited and intergenerational coresidence is relatively common.

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Presented in Poster Session 3