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A Quantitative Analysis of the Economic Situation of Those Who Have Undergone Divorce

- the gender gap in equivalent household income, 1998-2008, in Japan
TANAKA Sigeto <http://www.sal.tohoku.ac.jp/~tsigeto/>
(Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)
Paper read at ISA/RC06 (CFR) Kyoto Seminar (2011-09-12)

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(This is the abstract submitted to the organising committee of the Seminar at 2011-02-10)

This paper addresses how marriage and divorce create gender inequality. It focuses on the economic situation of men and women after divorce, which constitutes the main component of the gender gap in the standard of living in contemporary Japan. The data are drawn from the National Family Research of Japan (NFRJ) project, in which family sociologists have repeatedly conducted large-scale surveys with national representative samples in the fiscal years 1998 (NFRJ98), 2003 (NFRJ03), and 2008 (NFRJ08). The datasets include 473 (NFRJ98), 494 (NFRJ03), and 463 (NFRJ08) respondents who had undergone divorce. The number of cases is thus adequate to obtain statistically reliable estimates through multivariate analysis. The author conducted a series of regression analyses to determine the effect of gender on the equivalent household income (i.e., household income divided by the square root of the number of people in the household) for divorced men and women, controlling for variables such as age, education, household composition, marital status, and employment status. The results reveal the powerful and persistent effects of the gender differences in the probability of maintaining one’s employment status as an ordinary regular employee and in the probability of co-residing with young children. These factors have perpetuated the disadvantageous post-divorce situation for women, while the situation of divorced men has been getting worse from 1998 through 2008. Another important factor is remarriage, from which men and women receive different economic outcomes. We will discuss the theoretical and political implications of the results, with a special attention to the recent family law debates over equity-oriented reforms in the system for financial provision on divorce.


marital status, financial provision on divorce, discontinuous career, custody, remarriage


  1. Introduction
  2. Literature on Post-Divorce Life and Gender Gap
  3. The Question to Be Answered
  4. Data
  5. Income and Gender Gap
  6. Factors for the Gender Gap after Divorce
  7. Discussion

Tables and figures

Table 1: Trends in the composition of marital status in population of 25–69 years old, 1960–2005
Table 2: Synopsis of NFRJ surveys
Table 3: Gender and equivalent household income (geometric mean in 10,000 yen)
Table 4: Distribution of marital history
Table 5: Gender, marital history, and equivalent household income (geometric mean in 10,000 yen)
Table 6: Descriptive statistics for regression analysis (only those who underwent divorce)
Table 7: Regression analysis of equivalent household income (in 10,000 yen)
Table 8: Effects of gender, remarriage, and household composition
Figure 1: Paths toward the gender gap in post-divorce living standard


See the Japanese page or the full paper.


The data for this secondary analysis, National Family Research of Japan 1998 (NFRJ98) and National Family Research of Japan 2003 (NFRJ03) by the NFRJ Committee, Japan Society of Family Sociology, was provided by the Social Science Japan Data Archive, Center for Social Research and Data Archives, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo. The author also gratefully acknowledges the permission for the use of the National Family Research of Japan 2008 (NFRJ08) data by the NFRJ Committee, Japan Society of Family Sociology.

The earlier versions of this paper were presented at the internal conferences of NFRJ08 Kenkyuukai [the joint-use project of the NFRJ08 data closed to the members of the Japan Society of Family Sociology] (in Tokyo, 2010.7.3, 2010.12.24, and 2011.7.24) and are to be compiled by September 2011 as a chapter of the report of the project. Presentations were also made at the 20th annual meeting of the Japan Society of Family Sociology (in Tokyo, 2010.9.3) and at the 23rd monthly seminar of the Global COE Program of Tohoku University (in Sendai, 2011.2.16). The author gratefully thanks the comments from the audiences and the financial support from the Global COE Program of Tohoku University.

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