Overview of the Results of a Survey on Singles in Households

1.Overview of Survey

2.Characteristics of Households

3.Characteristics of Respondents

National Institute of Population and Social Security Research
Department of Empirical Social Security Research
Phone: (03) 5253-1111 Extension: 4451 or 4442

1. Overview of Survey

1. Purpose of Survey

In an aging society with a declining birth rate, social security in the forms of income support for the retired, medical care, and child welfare has become increasingly important. A labor shortage due to a declining birth rate and an aging population is imposing a greater burden on the working generation, and an imbalance between beneficiaries and suppliers is leading to budgetary problems for social security.On the other hand, the delay in getting married and an increase of single persons (unmarried) will produce a new type of family unit and life styles.

In this context, the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research carried out a survey under the title "Survey of Unmarried People Living with their Families" to elucidate the current conditions of unmarried people staying with their families, which is regarded as one of the main reasons for the declining birth rate in Japan. Through our study on the conditions of unmarried people living with their families, so-called "Parasite Singles" in the current vernacular, we would like to speculate on future reforms of the social security system.

2. Methods of Survey and Data Collection

This research covered households with unmarried relatives aged 18 and over among all households throughout the nation. The survey area consisted of 300 census units randomly selected from among the 1,048 census units of the "Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare." The researcher visited households in those areas and distributed questionnaires to households with "unmarried relatives aged 18 and over." This survey consists of the two questionnaires: one is for the household and one is for the individual respondents.

The number of questionnaires distributed was 3,552 to households and 4,604 to individuals. The rate of collection was 90.17% (3,203) for households and 94.1% (4,334) for individuals. The rate of valid respondents was 88.8% (3,155) for households and 92.5% (4,258) for individuals.

The number of households and respondents used for the analysis were 2,667 and 3,422, respectively. A total of 31.1% of these included more than one unmarried relative, and most were siblings. This survey was conducted at the same time as "The Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare in 2000," and information related to household characteristics was extracted from it.

2. Characteristics of Households

Most Heads of Households Are in Their 50s

Figure 1 shows that 45.8% of household heads are in their 50s, and 71.2% of household heads are between their late 40s and early 60s.
Figure 1

The majority of households form a nuclear family

Figure 2 shows household type. The proportion of households consisting of parents and their unmarried children is 58.5%, and when adding households with single parents and their unmarried children, the corresponding figure becomes 73.6%.
Figure 2

Households Are not Concentrated in the High-income Group

Figure 3 shows the proportional distribution of household income, about half of households earn between 5 million and less than 12 million yen. As Table 1 shows, 62.7% of the main income is derived from earnings, with14.6% from self-employed income, and about 80% of all households obtain their income by working. However, we should not overlook the 10% of households which rely on public pension and social security benefits as their main income sources.
Figure 3 Household Incomes Table 1 Breakdown of Main Income Source (%)

Because this survey targets households including single relatives aged 18 and over, their life stages tend to be concentrated on particular periods; that is, the majority of household heads are in their 50s, and younger households and older households are excluded from our survey. This difference in life stages should be taken into account when reading our results. Table 2 shows average household income, average income per capita, average number of members in a household, and average number of working members by age group of household heads. Figures in parentheses indicate the results of the "2000 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare."

Table 2 Average Household Incomes by Age Group of Household Heads (Median Point Estimation)

Note: The figures in parentheses are derived from the results of the "2000 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare."

The average household income indicates that the income of a household with its head in his 40s is below the total average, but one in his 50s shows no significant difference. The households of heads in their 60s and 70s have higher incomes than the total average. The reason for this is that our survey excluded single households and couple-only households. The households show a lower average income per household member in every age group. Thus, the households are not concentrated in high-income groups.

High Rate of Home Ownership Rate of 80%

About 90% of respondents reported that their parents have no health problems (Chart 3), and only 3.7% claimed their parents had health problems.[1]
By type of house, (Table 4) shows that 76.1% are independent houses, and about 80% of households have their own homes including condominiums.[2] Nearly 70% of those houses have more than five rooms (excluding bathroom and lavatory). The majority, or 87.5% of respondents, have their own rooms, and the living environment is generally good. However, 13.2% of households have less than three rooms, and 12.5% of respondents do not have their own room.

Table 3 Health Condition of Parents * Table 4 Type of House

* Excluding the case in which both parents are dead or unknown
** Including single parent

3. Characteristics of Individual Respondents

60% of Individuals Are in Their 20s

Male unmarried persons aged 18 and over living with their relatives comprise 51.8%, and their female counterparts comprise 48.2%. Table 5 shows the age distribution of unmarried persons; about 60% (2,158) are in their 20s. Including those in their early 30s (491), such singles comprise 77.5% of the total. The average age of female respondents is 26.2 and that of male respondents is 27.6. The difference in average age between men and women is statistically significant.

Table 5 Age Distribution of Unmarried Persons

Individuals Are not Always Highly Educated

Table 6 Distribution of Educational Background by Age Group

One-third of individual respondents have obtained a higher education[3] (Table 6), and the distribution of educational level among unmarried persons is not greatly skewed to a higher level. The proportions of technical school (19.2%) graduates and junior college (16.0%) graduates in their 20s are higher than other age groups.

Table 7 Classification of Employment by Educational Level

Table 7 shows working conditions by education level. The rate of unemployment increases as education level becomes lower, and one fourth of those who complete only compulsory education were unemployed. However, about 10% of those who have a higher education are unemployed.

Majority of Respondents Have Jobs, Enrolling in Pensions

Table 8 Classification of Employment by Gender/Age Group

*** Omitted due to the very small number of cases

Table 8 shows that 87% of individuals have jobs, and more than 70% of them work on a full-time basis. Table 8 indicates that the majority of both males and females work full-time, and more females work as non-regular workers, such as part-timers, and temporary workers, compared to males.

Table 9 Enrollment Rate to Pensions by Age Group

Table 9 shows the enrollment rate in pensions by age group. No detailed information on how much they pay was available. 8.4% of those in their 20s and 8.1% of those in their 30s answered "not enrolled."

Nearly 70% Save and Two-thirds Contribute to the Household Economy

Figure 4 shows the saving rate. A total of 70.4% of individuals have savings, and 25.3% have no savings. The majority of teenagers have no savings, while more than 70% of those in their 20s save. The average amount of savings by age group is less than 1 million yen for those in their 20s and about 2.4 million yen for those in their 30s.

Figure 4 Saving Status Table 10 Saving Rate by Age Group

* Excluding age unknown

Table 11 presents the situation of their household economies. Two-thirds of individuals contribute to the household income, and the proportion of those who contribute increases as they become older. We found that 75% of those in their 30s and 80% of those in their 40s contribute to household income. The average contribution was 28,500 yen.

Table 11 Percentage of Contribution to Household Income and Average Contribution

Figure 5 Percentage of Average Amount of Support by Individual Income

Figure 6 Average Amount of Contribution by Household Income (Unit:\1,000)

Figure 5 presents the rate of contribution by individual income[4]. The lower income group shows a higher percentage of contribution, but the proportion of contribution among those with more than 1.5 million yen of income and more is 20%. This result suggests that the percentage of contribution does not always increase with income level.

Figure 6 shows the average of contribution by household income. It indicates a relatively high contribution in the lower income group. This means that unmarried people can contribute to the household economy by living with their families.

70% of Females and About 30% of Males Help with Housework

Table 12 shows the time spent on household chores by men and women. There is a difference in the time spent on housework between males and females. More than 70% of males who work did no housework at all on weekdays, while less than 40% of females did no housework during the weekdays. However, about 30% of males and 70% of females who have no jobs do some housework.

Table 12 Time Spent on Housework by Gender and by Working Status

Younger People Enjoy More Social Life with Friends than Older People, and Women Are More Likely to Enjoy Travel Than Men

The life styles of individuals are shown in Table 13. The Table shows that a high percentage of those in their 40s and 50s who do not eat out at all. The older they are, the less active they are with hobbies and entertainment. Respondents in their 20s are most active with hobbies and entertainment. A large majority hardly travel, but the gender difference is explicit. More than half of females (56.4%) travel several times a year, and 36.7% hardly travel. On the other hand, 60% of males hardly travel.

There is a large age difference in contacts with their friends. Teenagers are the most active of all. After the age of 40, the frequency of contact with friends declines while those aged 50 and over becomes more involved in the community. A small number of respondents do not communicate with their families.

Table 13 Life Style

1 According to "The 1998 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare" (Table 10, p.191), 86.7% of respondents between 45 and 54 years-old answered "(the health condition is) good," "satisfactory," and "normal."

2 According to "The 1998 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare" (Table 14, p.60~p.63), the home ownership rate of the head of household between 40 and 74 year-old is 68.6%.

3 According to "The 1997 Employment Status Survey" (Nationwide version, Table 3) of Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, 24.5% in their 30s have higher education including a college degree.

4 The contribution per month times 12 is regarded to be annual amount by annual individual income. However, there is a possibility of overestimation by assuming that they regularly contribute to household income.

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