The Fourth National Survey on Household Changes
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan
Japan has experienced marked demographic changes during past several decades. Although the improvement in life expectancy continues due to the mortality decline in older ages, it is predicted that the total population starts declining because of the very low fertility rate prevailing since 1970's. Rapid population aging will continue and even be accelerated when the post-war baby-boom cohort reaches at age 65. Changing gender relationship has been prompting such nuptiality changes as the delay in marriage, the increase in the proportion never marrying, and the rise in the divorce rate.
These changes have exerting impacts on the static distribution of household size and composition as well as on the dynamic process of household formation and dissolution. Such household changes as increase in the propensity to live alone among the elderly, the growth in the number of one-parent family households, and the growing propensities of young adults to stay longer in their parental households are of great concern both for academic and political worlds.
The Fourth National Survey on Household Changes was conducted on July 1, 1999, succeeding the previous round conducted five years before. This series of household surveys are designed to study various household changes and to obtain important parameters for household projections. The survey covered a similar set of topics as in the previous survey, which included the size and the composition of the households, individuals' experiences of assuming and resigning headship, timing of young adults' leaving parental home, transitions between marital states, and so forth.
Samples and responses
This survey was conducted as a "rider" of the Comprehensive Survey of the Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare conducted by the former Ministry of Health and Welfare (presently the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare). Out of 1,048 survey areas sampled for the Comprehensive Survey, 300 were assigned for this survey. Designated interviewers distributed and collected questionnaires, which were, in principle, requested to be filled out by household heads.
Out of a total sample of 16,267 households, completed questionnaires were collected from 13,385 households, among which 12,434 were regarded valid for analysis. The collection rate was 82.3 percent while the valid response rate was 76.4 percent.
Present Status of Households
- Compared to the result in the previous survey, households decreased in the average size, from 3.1 in 1994 to 2.9 in 1999. The proportion of one-person households increased from 18.9 percent to 19.8 percent during the same period. The proportion of nuclear family households also increased from 60.8 percent to 62.5 percent. Overall, households became smaller and simpler during last five years.
Availability and Co-residence with Kin
- Among the household members 65 years of age and over, 92.6 percent had children in 1999, compared to 94.1 percent in 1994. 52.1 percent of the same household members lived with their children in 1999, whereas 58.3 percent did so in 1994. Men 70 to 74 years old, as well as women 65 to 69 years old, were most likely not to live with their children. The overall proportion living with their children decreased during the five-year period.
- Among the household members 65 years and over, 38.0 percent, compared with 41.2 percent in 1994, lived with their male children while 13.2 percent, compared with 10.6 percent in 1994, lived with their female children. The most noticeable trend was the rise in the proportion of the elderly living with their female children. The proportion living with daughters among elderly parents who live with a child was 25.4 percent, compared with 18.8 percent in 1994.
- Among the children living with parents 65 years and over, there were more children who have ever left home than those who never left home.
- Among the household members 18 years and over, 68.1 percent had at least one parent alive in 1999, compared with 64.1 percent in 1994.
- Even among those 65 years and over, 13.3 percent had at least one of their parents alive, when parents-in-law were included.
- Among the household members 18 years and over, 32.8 percent of men and 22.0 percent of women were living with their parents. While slightly less than 80 percent of 20 to 24 year old men and women lived with their parents, the proportion rapidly declined by age as children marry and leave home. Among men 30 to 34 year old, 39.0 percent lived with their parents in 1999, compared with 41.2 percent in 1994. Among women of the same age group, 22.9 percent lived with their parents in 1999, compared with 21.5 percent in 1994.
- Among the household members 65 years and over, 4.3 percent of men and 1.1 percent of women lived with their parents in 1999. The proportion increased slightly over the five-year period.
- The proportion of those living with their parents-in-law accounted for 4.8 percent among currently married men and 16.3 percent among currently married women, compared to 4.0 percent and 18.0 percent, respectively, in 1994. The proportion of currently married women living with their parents-in-law decreased by two percentage points.
- The average number of siblings per person decreased from 2.52 persons in 1960-64 birth cohort to 2.38 in 1975-79 cohort.
- Due to the decline in the number of siblings, approximately 70 percent of men born after 1960 were the eldest sons. The proportion of women who had only female siblings increased rapidly, from 25.3 percent of 1945-49 birth cohort to 44.9 percent of 1975-79 cohort.
Continuity and emergence of households
Experiences of household heads
- Among all households surveyed in 1999, 90.5 percent already existed in 1994. The newly-created households accounted for 9.5 percent. Among the households that already existed in 1994, 85.4 percent was headed by the same person as five years before while 5.1 percent experienced changes in headship.
- Among household members 18 years and older, 75.8 percent of men and 14.0 percent of women were household heads. People in their late teens and early twenties were most likely to have become the new heads. Among the female elderly who had become the new head, a large majority had assumed the role by replacing someone in the same households.
- Households that had the new heads during the period numbered 590, representing 5.1 percent of all households. 42.5 percent of the new heads replaced one of their parents, while those who replaced their spouses accounted for 42.0 percent.
- Among the heads who were replaced during the period 1994-1999, 43.1 percent were replaced while living and the remaining 56.9 percent were replaced at death.
- Among the new male heads who replaced the former head, 65.6 percent replaced the former head while he/she alive. However, 80.6 percent of the new female heads succeeded the headship at the death of the former head.
Arrivals and departures of household members
- Among the households that already existed in 1994, 16.1 percent experienced arrivals of new members, while 26.7 percent experienced departures of their members.
Changes in the household size
- Among the households that already existed in 1994, 13.7 percent increased in size whereas 22.0 percent reduced during the five-year period. As a result, the average household size for households that already existed in 1994 declined from 3.08 to 2.97 during the same period.
Changes in the family types
- Among the households that had already existed in 1994, the proportion of "one-person" and "couple-only" households increased whereas "parent-and-child" and "other" households decreased during the five-year period.
Household formation and expansion
Leaving parental home
- Among women 25 to 29 years old, the proportion living with parents increased from 46.3 percent in 1994 to 51.3 percent in 1999, suggesting the delay in leaving home.
- The average age at the first home-leaving of men was lowest in 1945-49 cohort (20.2 years old) and that of women in 1950-54 cohort (20.8 years old). The trend has been upward since then.
- As more and more people are having higher education, the proportion of young adults leaving home to attend school increased to match the proportion leaving at their first jobs. However, the share of those leaving home to attend school leveled off after the trend peaked among those born in 1960s.
- Among women in their late twenties and early thirties, the proportion of those who had never married grew by four to five percentage points during the five-year period, reflecting the delay in marriage.
Life course patterns
- For 30-year-olds and over, majority of men and women experienced home-leaving, marriage and childbearing. However, a sizeable proportion of men continued living with their parents even after marriage and birth of offspring, representing 15.9 percent of men in their late thirties.
- It is expected that an increased proportion of women 35 to 39 years old will live at home with their parents in future.
Household dissolution and reduction
Divorce and widowhood
- Among the household members 65 years and over, 3.4 percent of men, as well as 16.7 percent of women, experienced deaths of their spouses during the period between 1994 and 1999. Among elderly members who lived only with their spouses in 1994 and experienced spouses' deaths, more than 90 percent lived alone in 1999.
- Among those who were less than 35 years old and were married in 1994, 4.0 percent of men and 5.0 percent of women had got divorced by the survey date. The predominant transitions in family type for divorced males were that from "couple-only" household to living alone (16.9 percent) and that from "parents-and-children" household to living alone (12.4 percent) whereas for divorced female the transition from "parents-and-children" to "mother-and-children" accounted for 37.5 percent.
Departures of children and empty nests
- Among the households that already existed in 1994, 9.8 percent had transited from "parents-and-children" to "couple-only" households by the survey date. Over 20 percent of households with heads of age 60 and over had become 'empty nest'.
- Among all those with children, 24.5 percent did not live with their children in 1999. Among those who lived with at least one child in 1994, 7.5 percent transited to the "empty nest" by the survey date. Age distribution at the transition to the "empty nest" peaks at late fifties, accounting for 15.1 percent for fathers and 14.3 percent for mothers.
Health of the elderly and co-residence with children
- Households containing the elderly member with health problem tended to be extended households.
- Adult children who live with their parents with health problem tended to have experiences of home-leaving than children who live with healthy parents. Fathers with health problem were 11.3 percentage point more likely to live with children who ever left home than healthful fathers, whereas mothers with health problem were 5.7 percentage point more likely to live with returning children.
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