No. 31 — August 11, 2000

Feature Article

"PARASITE SINGLES" &emdash; A UNIQUELY JAPANESE PHENOMENON?

Hiroyuki Takahashi and Jeanette Voss

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Summary

The numbers of "parasite singles" — young adults who are employed but who continue to live as dependents in their parents' homes — are on the rise in Japan. Masahiro Yamada, associate professor at Tokyo Gakugei University, has identified this phenomenon as the dominant trend among young people in Japan today. Certain aspects of the Japanese economy and society have encouraged adult children to choose this living arrangement over marriage or independent living. Parents, as well, have a number of motives to go along with their childrens' choices.

Adult children in Western Europe and the United States also are delaying their departure from the parental home. From an international perspective, the percentage of adults in Japan who live with parents is not as pronounced or so unusual as Mr. Yamada appears to believe. Nonetheless, this demographic shift in Japan has, for many young people, delayed the transition to the next stage of life and has affected labor markets and demand. Furthermore, the delay contributes to the decline in birth rates — a trend that has many analysts worried about a labor shortage in the future. Mr. Yamada blames these parasite singles for societal and economic problems in Japan. Other analysts have pointed out that this trend is just the Japanese version of the tough choices between career and family faced by the women and men in every industrial country.

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"Parasite Singles" Defined

"Kangaroo generation," "nestlings" and now, "parasite singles" — inventing colorful terms to describe the ways that some children prolong their years at home with Mom and Dad seems to have grown into a minor industry. A best-seller1 on the theme by Tokyo Gakugei University professor, Masahiro Yamada, has caused a great deal of discussion in both domestic and international media.

Mr. Yamada defines parasite singles as "young men and women who continue living with their parents even after they become adults, enjoying a carefree and well-to-do life as singles."2 The term, "parasite single," coined in 1997, is an example of "Japlish" — that is, the Japanese use of an English word to create a "cool" new word. The most familiar example of a Japlish word is "Walkman." Japlish often confuses Americans because, although the words may sound like English words, they often have a different meaning. For example, the Japanese use "mansion" to refer to a condominium. However, in the case of parasite singles, the term says exactly what it means. The expression aptly describes the children's continued dependence on parental support and the one-sided relationship where children sponge off their parents without causing them harm.

On the basis of data from Japan's 1995 census, Mr. Yamada estimates the total number of parasite singles in Japan to be roughly 10 million, representing both sexes in almost equal numbers (see Table 1). Interestingly, the media has focused primarily on the women. Mr. Yamada believes that by 2000, one in every 10 Japanese will be a parasite single.3 Although no official statistics are available to derive an exact number, some data does support his estimate. According to a 1996 Ministry of Health and Welfare survey of single working women, 80 percent of the age 20-to-29 group lived with their parents. The figure for those aged 30-to-34 was about 70 percent. Between 1976 and 1996, the proportion of singles living at home increased by more than 10 percentage points for the 20-to-29 age group and by 16 percentage points for the 30-to-34 age group.4

Table 1: Number of "Parasite Singles" in Japan, 1995

(in millions of persons and percent)

All

Male

Female

Total

Parasite Singles

Share

Total

Parasite Singles

Share

Total

Parasite Singles

Share

Age 20-24

9.9

6.1

62.1%

5.0

3.0

59.3%

4.9

3.2

65.1%

Age 25-29

8.8

3.3

37.5

4.5

1.8

39.9

4.3

1.5

35.1

Age 30-34

8.1

1.4

17.4

4.1

0.9

21.7

4.0

0.5

13.1

Total

26.8

10.9

40.5

13.6

5.7

41.6

13.2

5.2

39.4

Source: Masahiro Yamada, Parasaito Shinguru no Jidai (The Age of Parasite Single), and Management and Coordination Agency.

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Why Have Numbers Of Adult Children Living At Home Increased?

Sometimes necessity and other times choice determines an adult child's decision to reside with parents. Several aspects of the Japanese culture and economy increase the probability that a child will choose to live at home.

 

Family Structure

The practice of adult children residing with parents, even after university graduation, is not new in Japan. In the past, many young people lived with their parents until marriage. However, a greater number of siblings, especially within a small residential space, meant that it was more likely that the second or third child in a family would chose to leave their parents' home after graduation to seek more space and freedom. Between 1960 and 1995, the average household shrank from 4.1 to 2.8 members. Meanwhile, between 1960 and 1998, the amount of living space per person increased by 2.4 times.5 In more recent years, the decline of the average number of children per family to one or two has increased the probability that an adult child would choose to live with his or her parents.

 

City Life

The high rates of postwar economic growth caused an excessive demand for labor that lasted several decades, especially in the urban areas where many companies were located. Moreover, the prestigious universities were headquartered in the large cities. For these reasons, young people from smaller towns and rural areas rushed to jobs or universities in Tokyo or Osaka, creating a high population density in big cities. Under these circumstances, many young people established their own households immediately upon entering college or after graduation. Table 2 shows the increases in population density of Japan's three big cities since the 1960s.

Table 2: Share of Total Population of Japan Living
in Three Largest Metropolitan Areas*

1960

1970

1980

1990

1995

Tokyo

16.7%

21.0%

22.5%

23.6%

23.8%

Osaka

10.9

13.0

13.2

13.1

13.0

Nagoya

5.7

6.5

6.7

6.8

6.9

Others

66.6

59.5

57.6

56.4

56.3

*Includes population within about 30 miles of metropolitan government center.

Source: National Institute of Population and Social Security Research

When the children of the generation that had come of age in the 1960s and 1970s reached adulthood, they did not need to go far from their parents' homes to work or study. They already were living in big cities with many options at their doorsteps. An increase in parasite singles in the 1980s marked the coming of age of this new urban generation. Although firms often offer living-expense subsidies to young employees who establish their own households in these cities, the high cost of living in urban areas makes moving out of the parents' house very difficult.

 

Delay of Marriage

The average age at first marriage is on the rise across the globe. In Japan in 1998, it was 28.6 years for men and 26.7 years for women, figures that since 1970 had risen by 1.7 years and 2.5 years, respectively (see Figure 1).6 Since children tend to live with their parents until marriage, later marriage means that a child will reside with his or her parents for a longer period. Among young Japanese, the practice of deferring marriage also has tended to lower fertility rates — the average number of babies born to each woman in her childbearing years. This in turn, further reduces average household size and produces a corresponding increase in the space available per family member, thereby increasing the probability of young people choosing to stay in the family residence.

 

Higher Standard of Living

Living with parents has its economic advantages, especially for those young people with modest salaries. Most adult children living at home do not pay rent or purchase durable consumer goods. Life is more convenient for them since their parents often provide housekeeping, laundry and meal services. In fact, 85 percent rely on their parents to take care of these daily tasks, and many even get extra spending money.7 In 1997, about 50 percent of the young men and women who lived with their parents received some form of financial assistance.8

Such parental support allows parasite singles to spend their time and salaries on themselves. Some do save so that someday they will have enough money to marry and have a family, and, in general, men save more than women. On the other hand, other parasite singles treat their salaries as disposable incomes available for self-indulgent purchases. In Mr. Yamada's cautionary words, they "cast a shadow on the health of society in the future."9 As the Washington Post described one young woman, "she is 26 years old, beautiful, drives a BMW and carries a $2,800 Chanel handbag — when she isn't using her Gucci, Prada or Vuitton purses. She vacations in Switzerland, Thailand, Los Angeles, New York and Hawaii."10

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Why Parents Support Adult Children At Home

More often than not, the discussion focuses on what parents give to children, but parents also derive certain advantages from sharing their homes with their adult children. The benefits that children give to parents are less well-defined and can take longer to deliver. The motivations for parents are as follows:

  • Economic Reasons - Compared with the high cost of financing an education, the household expenditure to support a working child living at home is small.
  • Altruistic Motives - According to this reasoning, a parent's well-being depends to a large degree on that of their child. Rather than consume for themselves, parents will use their resources to ease the needs of their children. Many mothers want for their daughters the opportunity of the careers they did not have. So, they offer to perform the household tasks for their children to free them from the time constraints that such duties would impose.
  • Exchange of Services - Some parents are willing to pay for a child's services, that is, their companionship and attention. These parents are eager to give their child financial and other support as part of an unwritten contract to maintain the relationship. As a child's income rises, so does the value of his or her time, and the parent will be expected to give more money to keep the child's companionship and attention.
  • Investment - Parents may be counting on a future return on their investment in their child's human capital. For instance, the expectation may be for the adult child to provide financial assistance to the parents in the case of illness or economic difficulty. The largest investment that parents make in children is the money spent on their education. Since graduates from top universities in Japan are guaranteed good jobs at well-known companies with generous benefits and promotional possibilities,11 money spent on a child's education to enable him or her to secure such a position is considered a very good investment.

Japanese parents support their adult children for reasons that are likely to be a combination of these motivations. A study done in the United States has found that the main motivations for American parents are exchange of services and investment.12

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International Comparison

The factors that influence a person's decision whether or not to live at home — including relationships with parents and peers as well as finances — are in a continual flux. This makes study of trends difficult. Moreover, available data are imprecise. Furthermore, there has been a lack of interest in determining young adults' living situations and these arrangements are difficult to classify and understand, especially since living with nonrelatives has become more common.

The timing of the departure from the parental home varies among industrialized countries. Young adults in the United States and Western European countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom tend to leave home at an earlier age than their peers in such Southern European countries as Greece, Spain and Italy.13 In general, however, the trend since the 1980s has been to leave the parental home at a later age (see Table 3). Because they tend to marry at a younger age, women generally leave earlier than men. Marriage is losing its symbolism as the commencement of adulthood. And, rising housing costs implies that having a job no longer means that a person is able to afford establishing an independent residence.

Table 3: Proportion of European Young Adults Living with Parents,
1986 and 1994

(share of age group total)

Men, 20-24

Women, 20-24

Men, 25-29

Women, 25-29

1986

1994

1986

1994

1986

1994

1986

1994

Central Europe

59.9%

61.2%

37.9%

41.3%

23.1%

24.7%

9.4%

11.4%

France

56.9

61.8

36.4

41.6

19.3

22.5

8.4

10.3

Germany

64.8

64.6

42.8

44.6

27.4

28.8

11.0

12.7

United Kingdom

57.2

56.8

33.8

37.0

21.9

20.8

8.6

10.8

Southern Europe

87.1

90.9

71.1

81.3

51.3

65.3

28.8

44.3

Spain

88.1

91.5

76.1

84.3

53.2

64.8

35.3

47.6

Greece

76.5

79.3

52.3

62.3

53.8

62.6

23.8

32.1

Italy

87.8

92.2

70.4

82.4

49.6

66.0

25.5

44.1

Source: Juan Antonio Fernandez Cordon, "Youth residential independence and autonomy: A comparative study," Journal of Family Issues, XVlII, 1997 Special Issue, p. 580.

 

United States

The most dramatic change in the United States has been a decline in family households headed by young adults, as indicated by Census Bureau data. This is a reflection of the increasing tendency in the United States to delay marriage (see Figure 1). Instead of forming new families, young adults either are living with their parents, living alone or living with nonrelatives (see Tables 4 and 5). The pattern is similar for both women and men. However, compared with Mr. Yamada's estimates for the Japanese (see Table 1), a smaller percentage of Americans live with their parents.

Table 4: Living Arrangements of Young Adults (18-24)
in the United States, 1970-95

(distribution)

 

 

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

Living with Parents[1]

47%

48%

54%

53%

53%

Family Householder or Spouse

38

29

24

22

21

Nonfamily Householder[2]

5

10

8

9

9

Other[3]

10

13

14

16

17

Men

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

Living with Parents

54

54

60

58

58

Family Householder or Spouse

30

21

16

15

13

Nonfamily Householder

5

11

10

10

10

Other

10

13

14

17

18

Women

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

Living with Parents

41

43

48

48

47

Family Householder or Spouse

45

36

32

30

28

Nonfamily Householder

4

8

7

8

9

Other

10

13

13

15

16

[1]Unmarried college students living in dormitories are included in living with parents category.
[2]An unmarried person maintaining a household while living alone or with nonrelatives.
[3]Includes roomers, boarders, paid employees and nonrelatives sharing a household but not classified as the householder.

Source: Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States 1996.

Table 5: Living Arrangements of Young Adults (25-34)
in the United States, 1970-95

(distribution)

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

Living with Parents[1]

8%

9%

11%

12%

12%

Family Householder or Spouse

83

72

68

65

63

Nonfamily Householder[2]

5

12

13

13

13

Other[3]

4

7

9

11

13

Men

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

Living with Parents

10

11

13

15

15

Family Householder or Spouse

79

66

60

56

53

Nonfamily Householder

7

15

16

16

16

Other

5

8

11

13

15

Women

1970

1980

1985

1990

1995

Living with Parents

7

7

8

8

8

Family Householder or Spouse

86

78

76

73

72

Nonfamily Householder

4

9

10

10

10

Other

4

6

7

9

10

[1]Unmarried college students living in dormitories are included in living with parents category.
[2]An unmarried person maintaining a household while living alone or with nonrelatives.
[3]Includes roomers, boarders, paid employees and nonrelatives sharing a household but not classified as the householder.

Source: Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States

Brown University sociology professor Frances Goldscheider has noted that young adults' departure from the parental home has become less sensitive to marriage because these people are increasingly living in nonfamily situations, that is, they live alone or with nonrelatives. Additionally, since these nonfamily living arrangements generally are somewhat unstable, adult children are more likely to return to the parental home for short periods.14

Ms. Goldscheider also studied the attitudes of young adult children and aging parents about coresidence and found that fewer people want their adult children to live at home.15 In the United States, coresidency has become associated with poverty. Due to the increasing affluence among young adults as well as to changes in preferences, nonfamily living situations have become more common. As a result, increasing numbers of young people have lived outside of a family setting before marriage in recent decades and have enjoyed the increased privacy and the opportunity of freedom from familial duties. Such alternative living arrangements appear to be more attractive to young adults than coresidence.

 

France

In France, the age of departure from the parental home has fluctuated in the postwar period. Initially, people were going out on their own at increasingly younger ages, but the trend reversed in the early 1980s.16 In the first part of the 1990s, the percentage of young adults in France living with their parents (see Table 6) was about the same, if not slightly higher than Mr. Yamada's estimates for the Japanese population (see Table 1).

Table 6: Share of Young Adults (19-24) in France
Living in Parental Household, 1968-90

 

1968

1975

1982

1990

Men

64.6%

61.8%

64.9%

69.1%

Women

47.8

43.3

44.8

53.0

Source: Olivier Galland, "Leaving Home and Family Relations in France," Journal of Family Issues, XVIII, 1997 Special Issue, p. 646.

The extension of the period that young adults in France remain in the parental home is largely the result of extended academic study and unemployment. In addition, a growing number of temporarily employed young people, especially men, are waiting to achieve professional stability before moving out of the parental home. Like their American counterparts, young French adults also have several alternatives to living at home besides marriage, for example, cohabiting with other young people or living alone.

Some French sociologists worry that the effects of this prolonged stay keep the children who remain in the parental home from full maturation. Thus, they suggest giving financial help to the child to enable him or her to establish independence outside of the parental home. Other experts see a positive side to the arrangement in that the coresidence improves the relationship between the generations. The family's protective role intensifies this relationship and also counters the strenuous circumstances of difficulty in entering the labor market.

 

Italy

The percentage of young adults living in parental households is even larger in Italy than in Japan (see Table 7). In 1991, 44.3 percent of the adult children with jobs lived with their parents.17 Groups that once became independent at an earlier age, such as the employed, have chosen to remain in the parental home. In Northern Italy especially, the reasoning of these young adults is similar to that of the parasite singles in Japan:

They are young adults employed as managers who have decided to remain in the family home because perhaps they still feel uncertain in the labor market or perhaps because they do not want to pay the price of their own independence with a consequent loss of status, preferring instead to be able to afford — if they accept sharing with their family — to invest their own earning in personal consumption.18

From the Italian point of view, however, these youths do not represent a problem — only those who are unemployed and who are living at home do, particularly if they are college graduates.

Table 7: Share of Young Adults (20-34) in Italy Living
in Parental Household, 1971-91

1971

1981

1991

Ages 20-24

64.9%

67.7%

78.5%

Ages 25-29

29.7

29.9

44.1

Ages 30-34

14.7

12.1

18.9

Source: Giovanna Rossi, "The Nestlings, Why Young Adults Stay at Home Longer: The Italian Case," Journal of Family Issues, XVIII, 1997 Special Issue, pp. 632-633.

Italy is unique among Western countries in that the main reason that adult children leave home is to marry. Italians do not experiment with the alternative living arrangements that are popular in other Western countries. Marriage continues to be the traditional reason for leaving the parental home. As in Japan, dropping fertility rates are associated with the delay of marriage of young adults.

In Italy, as in France, a precarious labor market and a need for more education are the main reasons for more young adults living at home. A difference between Japan and Italy is that instead of universities being clustered in large cities, Italian universities are decentralized to smaller localities and, thus, reinforce the permanence of family.

A certain generational inequality also has made living at home popular in Italy. The burden of recent structural changes and economic recessions mainly has affected young people, while older age groups derive benefits from a welfare state. On top of that, young people are not guaranteed the same benefits that their elders enjoy. To compensate for this imbalance, the older generations are providing a safety net for young adults in the form of financial and residential support. The situation is somewhat analogous to the income disparity between the young and the old in Japan because of the seniority-based wage system.

As a result of the interdependencies within the family, relationships intensify and a lack of confidence to move on to the next stage of life is apparent:

…the attention given to each family relation multiplies, expectations increase, and all this appears to need more time to reach the required level of proficiency: no one feels sufficiently settled at work, no one feels ready for marriage or to become parents, and the first child is not thought ready to have a little brother or sister. Such attitudes tend to become obsessive: No one feels equal to the situation or wants to take any risks.19

In general, the parents and offspring considered the family to be a resource for, rather than an impediment to, their adult needs. Parents seemed to agree with sociologists who pointed out that the "family produces significant social relations, making external relations important and constitutes a bond for working and career opportunities." Children are thankful for the family support to launch into the working world and to apply themselves to their careers. However, they also note that the relationship hinders their social life and their personal growth.20

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Short-Term Effects Of Parasite Singles In Japan

The increase in the number of parasite singles has had immediate short-term effects on the Japanese economy — in the sales of durable goods, for example. Mr. Yamada attributes the slump in sales of such products to the growing number of parasite singles.21 Traditionally, young adults have bought large quantities of these products when they established new households.

On the other hand, the decrease in sales of durable goods to this cohort could be a reaction to the recession and the reductions in the demand for labor, especially new hires, due to corporate restructuring. For the last decade, the unemployment rate has risen most dramatically for the 15-24 age group, rising to 9.1 percent in 1999 from 4.3 percent in 1990.22

Another factor is the increased rate of part-time jobs among youth. In previous years, young people chose part-time work now; however, because of the prolonged recession, this is the only type of work that many people can get. Young people who work part-time are called "freeters" because they have plenty of free time — and less stress. According to the Ministry of Labor data, the number of freeters has grown by more than 500,000 since 1992 and reached 1.5 million in 1997. Moreover, 23 percent of college graduates could not find a full-time job and became part-time employees in 1999.23 The high cost of living makes living independently on a part-time salary very difficult. However, residing with parents, who provide financial support makes it possible.

Contrary to Mr. Yamada's general conclusions about consumption of durable goods, the spending habits of the parasite singles actually could be driving up demand. These young people are most likely to be the spendthrifts of Japanese society. They may not be purchasing durable goods, but since they treat practically their entire incomes as disposable, they have considerable resources available to spend on other goods and services. Although for the most part, sales are down, some goods have escaped the effects of the prolonged recession. For example, sales of exclusive designer products like Hermes or Louis Vuitton accessories have not changed, probably because the demand created by affluent single women has not fallen.24 Young Japanese in their 20s also appear to spend money more carefully than previous generations. They may buy one very expensive item, but the rest of their style is very modest.25

From a macroeconomic point of view, the increasing number of parasite singles might not greatly affect Japan's total economy. Total demand in Japan may not have changed although demand for certain goods has. People want different goods and services based on their living conditions. However, a possible leakage of domestic demand may be caused by the overseas travel and foreign-made goods that the "office ladies" seem to prefer, although data on such trends are not available.

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Long-Term Effects

Japan's baby boom after World War II peaked in 1949 with 2.7 million births. Although the birth rate fell rapidly after 1949, it shot back up again in the 1970s when the first baby boomers created an "echo" boom. This second boom peaked in 1973 at 2.1 million babies, still a decrease of more than a 20 percent from 1949. Since 1973, the number of births has been declining. A low 1.2 million births were registered in 1999, down 66 percent from 1949 (see Figures 2 and 3). It is necessary to look back to 1892 for the last time that such a small number of births was recorded. Negative population growth coupled with the "graying" of Japan has the bureaucrats worried about a shortage of labor, a strain on the pension system and a decreased consumer demand that would shrink markets.26

Perhaps the lasting effect of the increasing number of parasite singles will be an exacerbation of these possible problems related to Japan's changing demographics. According to a 1997 survey conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, many young people do not see any advantage to married life, especially from an economic perspective. Overall, the percentage of young people who plan to marry has been decreasing. Among those 25 and older, the percentage of those having no intention of marriage has been increasing. People intending to marry are waiting until they reach a certain age or are delaying marriage until they find their ideal partner (see Table 8).27 The seniority-based wage system makes it difficult for Japan's young adults to make the transition into married life without lowering their standards of living. In addition, setting up their own households means spending more time on domestic chores and that also discourages parasite singles from leaving home. Women want partners who will support their careers.

Table 8: Survey of Japanese Singles' Attitude Toward Marriage, 1987-97

Men

Women

1987

1992

1997

1987

1992

1997

Intend to Get Married at Specified Age

60.4%

52.8%

48.6%

54.1%

49.2%

42.9%

Don't Mind Being Single Until Have Ideal Partner

37.5

45.5

50.1

44.5

49.6

56.1

Don't Know

2.1

1.6

1.3

1.3

1.3

1.1

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: National Institute of Population and Social Security Research

The NIPSSR survey results also indicated that more couples are postponing marriage. Because couples who get married when they are older have fewer children, birth rates are declining. Some experts have suggested that the decrease in birth rates has resulted from an increase of married couples who opt not to have children. However, statistics do not support this argument. In fact, they show that the average number of babies per couple has barely changed over the last two decades.28 Therefore, the decrease in the birth rate is related to the increase of unmarried women aged 25-to-29 (see Figure 4). The shrinking working-age population will face a heavy social-security burden. Since the cost of social welfare benefits will be higher, take-home salaries will decrease. Accordingly, people will compensate for lower incomes by coresiding with their parents for as long as possible, delay marriage even more, end up with fewer children. Thus, the cycle reinforces itself.

One positive effect of this situation might be to lower real estate prices in Japan. The consistently high demand for real estate over decades has inflated real estate prices. A trend toward more families sharing a residence will relieve some of the demand and could lower prices.

If the number of parasite singles increases, the relationship between parent and child will change and so will the function of family. Some parasite singles could spend as much as half their lives with their parents. For those people, the intergenerational relationship will be transformed into a close friendship rather than the traditional parent-child relationship. This trend already has been seen often between mother and daughter. In the future, there may be more parents who cannot let their children go and more children who are by choice dependent.

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Conclusion

The factors that have created parasite-singles phenomenon still are present in the Japanese society and economy and are not likely to change significantly in the near future. Therefore, the number of parasite singles in Japan is likely to increase in the next decade. Not only is coresiding with parents an attractive proposition to adult children, parents also appear to be open to sharing their homes. Coresiding seems to strike a balance for both parents and children.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The image of the affluent parasite single in Japan today contrasts starkly with the typical workaholic "salaryman" of the 1980s. These young adults are happy and very satisfied with their lives — a sentiment difficult to find among other age groups during the prolonged recession.

Nonetheless, the long-term economic consequences of this social phenomenon may not be wholly positive if its effect is to further reduce birth rates because of delayed marriage. Moreover, the parasite singles are at risk of never fully maturing. One way that the Italians have addressed this issue is to develop a reciprocal relationship between parents and adult children.

Mr. Yamada's warnings of the ill effects of parasite singles on the economy and society is not fully convincing. Premature departure from the home could prevent children from completing expected levels of education. Also, the current arrangement could give them an economic head-start in life. Mr. Yamada has proposed a tax on these young people to discourage them from residing with their parents, but the possibility that the Diet would ever pass such an idea is slim.

In countries around world, the transition between life stages is blurring. The fact that the same trend is apparent in other developed countries should provide some relief to these Japanese who fear that their society is going through an uniquely negative experience. If, indeed, the phenomenon is partly caused by economic forces, changes in the economy could reverse the trends in the future.

Hitomi Kano and Jason Russell provided research assistance.

The views expressed in this report are those of the author
and do not necessarily represent those of the Japan Economic Institute

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Notes
aaa

1aa Masahiro Yamada, Parasaito Shinguru no Jidai (The Age of Parasite Single) (Tokyo: Chikuma Shinsho, 1999). Return to Text

2aa Masahiro Yamada, "The Growing Crop of Spoiled Singles," Japan Echo, June 2000, p. 49. Return to Text

3aa Yamada (1999), op. cit., pp. 59-60. Return to Text

4aa Ministry of Health and Welfare, Heisei 10 nen ban Kosei Hakusho (White Paper on Health and Welfare) (Tokyo: Gyosei, 1997), p. 105. Return to Text

5aa Statistics Bureau, Management and Coordination Agency, Japan Statistical Yearbook 2000, (Tokyo: Japan Statistical Association, 1999), p. 55 and 587; and Statistics Bureau, Management and Coordination Agency, Japan Statistical Yearbook 1986, (Tokyo: Japan Statistical Association, 1986), p. 512. Return to Text

6aa Ministry of Health and Welfare, Statistical Abstracts on Health and Welfare in Japan 1999 (Tokyo: Kosei Toukei Kyokai, 1999), p. 56. Return to Text

7aa Ministry of Health and Welfare (1997), op. cit., p. 105. Return to Text

8aa Ibid., p. 105. Return to Text

9aa Yamada (2000), op. cit., p. 49. Return to Text

10aa Kathryn Tolbert, "Japan's New Material Girls in No Hurry to Wed," Washington Post, February 10, 2000, p. A1. Return to Text

11aa See Jon Choy, "Japan's Educational System Heads For Reform," JEI Report No. 46A, December 10, 1999. Return to Text

12aa Yean-Ju Lee and Isik A. Aytac, "Intergenerational Financial Support Among Whites, African Americans, and Latinos," Journal of Family and Marriage, LX, May 1998, pp. 426-441. Return to Text

13aa Juan Antonio Fernandez Cordon "Youth residential independence and autonomy: A comparative study," Journal of Family Issues, Special Issue, XVIII, 1997, pp. 576-607. Return to Text

14aa Frances K. Goldscheider, "Recent Changes in U.S. Young Adult Living Arrangements in Comparative Perspective," Journal of Family Issues, Special Issue, XVIII, 1997, pp. 708-724. Return to Text

15aa Frances K. Goldscheider and Leora Lawton, "Family Experiences and the Erosion of Support for Intergenerational Coresidence," Journal of Marriage and Family, LX, May 1998, pp. 623-632. Return to Text

16aa Olivier Galland, "Leaving Home and Family Relations in France," Journal of Family Issues, Special Issue, XVIII, 1997, pp. 645-670. Return to Text

17aa Giovanna Rossi, "The Nestlings, Why Young Adults Stay at Home Longer: The Italian Case," Journal of Family Issues, Special Issue, XVIII, 1997, pp. 627-644. Return to Text

18aa Ibid., p. 637. Return to Text

19aa Ibid., p. 639-640. Return to Text

20aa Ibid., p. 642. Return to Text

21aa Yamada (1999), op. cit., p. 95-98. Return to Text

22aa Management and Coordination Agency. Available at http://www.stat.go.jp/data/roudou/sokuhou/nen/10.htm. Return to Text

23aa "Freeter 150 man nin kosu (Freeter population surpassed 1.5 million)," Nihon Keizai Shimbun, June 28, 2000, p. 5. Return to Text

24aa Yamada (1999), op. cit., p. 91. Return to Text

25aa Minoru Naito, "Passing the Torch: Their parents took shopping to a new level after World War II; now young adults carve out their own niches, trying to balance a need to be natural with an urge to spend," Nikkei Weekly, June 12, 2000. Return to Text

26aa See Douglas Ostrom, "Babies Grow Up: The Changing Demographics Of The Japanese Labor Force," JEI Report No. 32A, August 23, 1996. Return to Text

27aa National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, "Dai 11 kai Shussei Doukou Kihon Chousa Kekkon to Shussan ni Kansuru Zenkoku Chousa Dokushinsha Chousa no Kekka Gaiyou (11th National Fertility Survey: Attitudes Toward Marriage and Birth among Unmarried Youth)," 1997. Available at http://www.ipss.go.jp/Japanese/doukou11/single.html. Return to Text

28aa Ministry of Health and Welfare, op. cit., p. 39. Return to Text

The views expressed in this report are those of the author
and do not necessarily represent those of the Japan Economic Institute

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