Reconceptualising co-residence in post-growth Japanese society

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Three-generation co-residence, derived from the pre-war family system, was a common living arrangement among Japanese families until the proportion of nuclear family households became dominant in the period of economic growth following the Second World War. Financial affluence among ageing parents due to pensions and personal savings, and changes in lifestyle and attitudes, stimulated the growth of elderly-only households from the 1970s. In contemporary Japanese society, patterns of co-residence are changing again. Growing numbers of ageing parents are living with their unmarried adult children, largely due to precarious employment and falling marriage rates among the younger generation. In response to ultra-low fertility, population ageing and low economic growth, current policy discourse and initiatives are encouraging co-residence. Using Census data and attitudinal surveys, this article examines changing postwar patterns of co-residence, and conceptualises their shifting functions in post-growth Japan. While ‘de-familialisation’ underpinned the development of long-term care policy in the 1990s reducing the caring responsibilities of families by expanding services and provisions, current policy rhetoric and measures largely focus on ‘re-familialisation’. The article argues that policies encouraging a revival of co-residence through tax incentives and subsidies are, therefore, failing to address contemporary housing and fertility issues facing young adults.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Social Science
Early online date23 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2018


  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Co-residence
  • Low fertility
  • Social Policy
  • Housing


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