Japanese society has been going through social and economic changes since the early 1990s. After the collapse of the bubble economy, the marginal employment in Japanese labor market, like non-regular and temporary employment (“hiseiki-koyo”), has rapidly increased because Japanese firms intend to have fewer permanent employees (“seiki-koyo”) as they have to be. Labor market segregation resulted from the increase in the number of non-regular workers, who suffer due to bad working conditions and unemployment risk. In contemporary Japanese society, it is becoming difficult even for regular workers to have a secure career and life course due to reduction in companies’ fringe benefits. Thus, the downturn in the Japanese labor market may affect the decision-making among Japanese youth during their transition to adulthood, their economic independence, and the stability of their social and economic lives.
At the same time, the social circumstances of adolescents in Japan are changing. The trend of extended families has declined, and there is a growing number of other family types such as nuclear families and single-parent families. This implies that now children come from a variety of social backgrounds. Meanwhile, the child-rearing responsibility still lies with their family members, especially parents. Given the inequalities in the access to social and economic resources for parenting and education among different family types, adolescents from a disadvantaged background will have higher risk of socio-economic failure. In addition to family structure, other aspects of social background, like social class, may impact life course decisions and experiences.
Japanese society currently faces many issues that stem from the abovementioned social and economic changes, and it is essential to examine each of them empirically. In this session, we have five cutting-edge papers by Japanese scholars. These studies can enable us to understand social inequality at each life stage and its context. Moreover, each of them is unique with regard to data and statistical methods, and methodologically oriented researchers will also be interested in each presentation. We hope to have an insightful discussion with the floor through the session.