Single Motherhood and Children’s Health and School Performance in Japan

James Raymo, University of Wisconsin-Madison

I examine the well-being of Japanese children in single-mother families relative to their counterparts living with both parents. Using data from the 2011 and 2012 rounds of the National Survey of Households with Children, I begin by demonstrating that single mothers report that their children’s health and school performance is significantly worse in comparison with married mothers. I estimate a series of regression models to assess the extent to which lower levels of well-being among the children of single mothers reflect mothers’ (a) economic disadvantage, (b) difficult work circumstances, and (c) worse health and experience of stressful life events. Results indicate that economic disadvantage is important for understanding lower levels of well-being among children of single mothers who are not coresiding with parents. I discuss potential implications of these results for understanding linkages between family behavior and inequality in Japan and for the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage via single parenthood.

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Presented in Session 178: Family Structure and Child Outcomes: An International Perspective