Changes in the Family Life Course in Japan from a Birth Cohort Perspective

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Yukiko SENDA, Tohoku-Gakuin University, Japan
Fewer children, and the concept that “the husband works and the wife stays home,” are the characteristics of the modern family. Generally, along with the disappearance of gender division of labor, diversity in the family life course, such as dual-career couples with or without children, singlehood, and so on, increases according to the social conditions of each country.

This study investigates if this is also true for Japan from the viewpoint of birth cohorts per the National Census, Vital Statistics, and National Fertility Survey. Standardization of the family life course is seen in women of the 1950s birth cohort. The women of the 1960s birth cohort show a decrease in childbearing rate due to their delaying marriage. Among women of the 1970s birth cohort, a decrease in the incidence of marriage and an increase in the number of couples without children occur. The 1980s birth cohort reveals a new tendency in the timing of marriage and childbearing. Although these women marry even later in life, the cumulative rates of both marriage and childbirth are not lower than those of the 1970s cohort.

The practice of gender division of labor in the workplace, and the positive perception toward it in general, still exists in Japan. Instead of breaking it, the younger cohort finds various solutions to counter it. Some women choose to stay single and show that they have no family responsibilities in order to obtain better opportunities in the workplace, while others choose to continue working but move to “mommy track,” or quit working after becoming a mother in order to balance work and family.

What are the characteristics of the diversity of the family life course in harmony with the division of labor by gender? The answer to this question will contribute to increasing the well-being of people.