Social Inequality in Japan
To Be Published December 31st 2013 by Routledge – 256 pages
Japan is the first Asian country to become a mature industrial society. Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, Japan was viewed as an all-middle-class society, however, more recently, the issues of poverty and inequality have been actively discussed in Japan, particularly since the late 1990s.
This book examines socioeconomic inequalities in Japan, using empirical data in a cross-national comparison with Europe and the United States. The data reveals three key features. First, that although the degree of income inequality does not deviate from the European and American ranges, Japanese people’s perception of inequalities is higher than the perception of people of other nations, and considerably higher than the actual degree of income distributions warrant. Second, that wide gender inequalities exist in the labour market and within the family, and finally, there is a high poverty rate among single-person households—single men and women, including lifelong bachelors and spinsters—and among single-parent households, which exemplifies the characteristic of Japanese society in which those who deviate from the standard pattern suffer extreme consequences for doing so. However, despite these distinctive Japanese features, the basic mechanisms of the structure of inequality are not very different between Japan and western countries.
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars interested in Japanese culture and society, Japanese studies and social policy more generally.
Introduction: Japan Compared 1. Japan: How Much Inequality? 2. Female Labor Force Participation and Economic Inequality 3. Economic Inequality among Families with Children 4. Youngsters who Won’t Leave the Nest 5. Mothers Going Out to Work: Perceptions, Attitudes and their Institutional Background 6. Where Do Old People Live?: Ageing and Household Structure 7. Old People Living Alone and Those in Three-generation 8. Conclusion: Life Course and Inequality
Sawako Shirahase is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Tokyo, Japan.