Demographic and Socioeconomic Determinants of Living Alone in Sweden and Japan

Rong Fu , Waseda University
Mojgan Padyab, Umeå University
Glenn Sandström, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR), Umeå University

The main goal of this paper is to evaluate the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of one-person households (OPHs) in Sweden and Japan in 2016, societies situated similar economic development but representing the different cultural and institutional context and being at different stages in the trend over time towards a higher share of the population living alone. Significant differences in living alone in both countries can be observed, with nearly two times higher the proportion of solo-living individuals in Sweden than in Japan (22% vs.12%, respectively). The shares of OPHs are growing in Japan, yet the growth in Sweden appears to have subsided. The largest differences in levels of OPHs are found in the retirement age span, where levels in Sweden are much higher than in Japan. Being a forerunner in the growth of OPHs, Sweden is a staunchly individualistic society with a weak family system and a high degree of gender role symmetry. Japan is, in many ways, a polar opposite being a strong family society where familial ties still play a much greater role in the economic and social security of the individual. The lower growth in OPHs with age in Japan is probably because of the much higher share of elderly living with adult children at advanced ages compared to Sweden. The analysis also shows different effects of education by country, with a negative effect of education on living alone in Sweden, while in Japan, we only find a weak negative gradient of living alone for men.

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 Presented in Session 101. Singlehood and Relationships in the 21st Century