Changes in Demographic and Socioeconomic Determinants of Living Alone among Women in Sweden and Japan since the 1990s

Glenn Sandström, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR), Umeå University
Mojgan Padyab, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR), Umeå University
Haruko Noguchi, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University, Tokyo Japan
Rong Fu , School of Commerce, Waseda University, Tokyp, Japan

BACKGROUND The increase in one-person household (OPHs) in the developed world is often seen as the result of a trend where family solidarity is replaced by individualistic values and behaviours where the Nordic countries have been identified as forerunners in this development. In Asia, countries such as Japan have reached equal levels of economic development but retain elements of a strong family system and exhibit a much more asymmetric gender regime. OBJECTIVE This study compares the changes in the demographic and socioeconomic composition of OPH women in Sweden and Japan between 1990 and 2016. METHODS The probability to be an OPH-household is analysed by means of logistic regression models using microdata covering the entire population in Sweden and the Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions in Japan. RESULTS In Sweden, the growth of the female OPH-population has halted and shifted to a decline compared to Japan where it has increased rapidly since the 1990s. The analysis finds increasing similarities between the countries in the age patterns and urban-rural differences while persistent contrast in the impact of women’s socioeconomic status and family history remain salient. CONCLUSIONS. The findings provide evidence that the transformation of women’s economic role does not result in an ever-increasing shift towards “less” family. Rather, living arrangements depend on the extent to which gender regime adapts to increased economic self-sufficiency among women. CONTRIBUTION. These findings highlight the need for preparedness for continued increases of the OPH population among policy makers in economically developed strong family societies such as Japan.

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 Presented in Session 50. Union formation