Who Leaves Home in Japan?
Differences Between Families and within the Family
Japan has been suffering from low fertility rates that have remained below the replacement rate for about a quarter of a century. One of the main reasons for the declining fertility rate is the increase in the number of those who postpone marriage or stay unmarried. Changing marriage behavior among young people is closely related to their relationship with the parental home. This study examines how the pattern of leaving home is associated with the socioeconomic backgrounds of the family (factors between families) and family composition (factors within the family). Previous studies documented the relationship between family socio-economic resources and children’s decision to leave the parental home in Japan. However, these studies did not fully pay attention to heterogeneity within the family. The number of siblings and birth order, as well as the gender of the child, are likely to affect the decision to leave the parental home. Japan’s low fertility rate (1.43 in 2014) implies that not only the number of babies who were born but also the number of siblings decline. According to the National Survey on Household Changes in 2014 conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the average number of siblings is 1.83, a decrease from 2.11 in 2004. It is not surprising to expect that such a decline in the number of siblings leads to changes in the allocation of resources within the family. Our data set comes from the Japanese Life Course Panel Surveys (JLPS) that followed up respondents aged 20–40 in 2007. We focus on three variables within the family: gender, the number of siblings, and birth order. Our findings show that the decision to leave home is affected both by socio-economic differences between families and by sibling composition within the family.