Japan’s Economic and Social Research Institute Cabinet Office published a report on April 21 that analyzed child poverty in the country. The analysis by researchers Mika Akesaka, Yukiko Ito, and Fumio Ohtake looked to clarify what characteristics are found in households suffering from poverty. It also looked at the risk of poverty and its effect on high school studies.
Their research shows that poverty rates in Japan as calculated in national life surveys has been rising since the second half of the 1980s. In 2012, Japan’s poverty rate was 16.1%, which is higher than the average national poverty rate of 11.4% reported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The rise in poverty rates has also meant a change in the age of those falling into poverty. In the 1980s, the age group with the highest poverty rate was those 70 or older. By 2000, the group with the highest poverty rate was children less than 10 years old. The reason for this was that the parents of those children, in their 20s and 30s, were also experiencing higher levels of poverty.
The research revealed some characteristics of impoverished households with children aged 18 or younger. Those characteristics include households with infants younger than 1 year old, households led by women or young people, households led by those without much education, households with many children, and households with only one adult. Households led by women had a relative poverty rate of 6 to 9 percentage points higher than those led by men, and an absolute poverty rate 4 to 10 percentage points higher. Families with one parent had a relative poverty rate 6 to 7 percentage points higher than those with two parents, and an absolute poverty rate 3 to 5 percentage points higher. The more risk of poverty a child faces, the worse his or her high school performance, and the higher the rate of unemployment. The research also showed that children aged 0 to 9 face the highest possibility of poverty.
Details of the research can be downloaded (in Japanese) at http://www. esri.go.jp.