Emerging Adulthood Transitions in Japan

Emerging Adulthood Transitions in Japan Post-war Japanese adulthood derived from a hegemonic framework in which young people formed home-owning family households featuring “salary-men” and female-homemakers. Since the 1980s, however, along with prolonged economic downturn, Japanese adult transitions have become increasingly fragmented and non-linear. A growing concern has been the social, economic and ontological individualisation of younger adults, resulting in a phenomenal decline in partnering and marriage, on the one hand, and sharp increases in young people either staying on in the natal home or living alone, on the other. This paper begins by examining the wider context of recent unravelling in marriage and family formation before going on to consider the case of Japan in more detail. While dominant understandings of contemporary transitions into adulthood focus on “delay”, socioeconomic decline since the bursting of the economic bubble in the 1990s has undermined transitions into adulthood in Japan more substantially. Specifically, while many existing studies address labour market transitions among younger generations, we focus on the interaction of marriage and housing careers which play particularly important roles. Our analysis thereby contributes to both understanding of social contingencies that shape adult transitions and the role of housing and marriage markets, together, in mediating the attainment of full adulthood. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Asian Journal of Social Science Brill

Emerging Adulthood Transitions in Japan

Asian Journal of Social Science, Volume 44 (3): 391 – Jan 1, 2016

Emerging Adulthood Transitions in Japan


Introduction Significant changes in life-course transitions among younger adults have become evident across industrialised nations in recent decades. In many cases, realignment has presented itself as a delay, with new cohorts of young people moving more slowly through standardised conduits toward adulthood: school leaving, labour market entry, marriage and family formation (see Arnett, 2000, 2006; Buchmann and Kriesi, 2011; Biggart et al., 2001). For those entering adulthood in Japan’s post-bubble economy, the fading of corporate welfare and income security has had a particular impact on the formation of couples and rates of marriage. As family formation declined, so to have conventional transitions into independent living and through housing careers to eventual home ownership. The Japanese case, however, does not simply parallel shifts in transition patterns observed in Western-based studies (Sato et al., 2010). Within Japan, declining movement through formal employment and marriage has been perceived as a social threat and a driver of low-fertility underlying current processes of social ageing and population decline (Shirahase, 2007). Indeed, recent research has illustrated that even sexual activity is diminishing among Japan’s younger cohorts (Matsuura, 2005). Meanwhile, between 1990 and 2010, ratios of people still unmarried at 50 years of age have almost doubled for women and more than tripled for men ( IPSSR , 2013). These remarkable shifts have been associated with a growing reluctance among younger people to adopt adult roles (Yamada, 1999) although many researchers have also argued that structural factors have posed particular transitional challenges to younger generations, especially those into work (see Genda, 2002; Brinton, 2010). Rather than simple delay or diversification in adult transitions, Japan presents a specific disalignment between routes into, and the full achievement of adult life-courses. The analytical lenses of this paper...
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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright 2016 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.
ISSN
1568-4849
eISSN
1568-5314
DOI
10.1163/15685314-04403006
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Post-war Japanese adulthood derived from a hegemonic framework in which young people formed home-owning family households featuring “salary-men” and female-homemakers. Since the 1980s, however, along with prolonged economic downturn, Japanese adult transitions have become increasingly fragmented and non-linear. A growing concern has been the social, economic and ontological individualisation of younger adults, resulting in a phenomenal decline in partnering and marriage, on the one hand, and sharp increases in young people either staying on in the natal home or living alone, on the other. This paper begins by examining the wider context of recent unravelling in marriage and family formation before going on to consider the case of Japan in more detail. While dominant understandings of contemporary transitions into adulthood focus on “delay”, socioeconomic decline since the bursting of the economic bubble in the 1990s has undermined transitions into adulthood in Japan more substantially. Specifically, while many existing studies address labour market transitions among younger generations, we focus on the interaction of marriage and housing careers which play particularly important roles. Our analysis thereby contributes to both understanding of social contingencies that shape adult transitions and the role of housing and marriage markets, together, in mediating the attainment of full adulthood.

Journal

Asian Journal of Social ScienceBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2016

Keywords: housing; marriage; emerging adulthood; individualisation; Japan

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