Past Event

Family and Inequality: “Diverging Destinies” in Japan

March 22, 2022
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
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Zoom Webinar


James M. Raymo, Professor of Sociology, Henry Wendt III ’55 Professor of East Asian Studies, Princeton University


Daniel Smith, Columbia University

“Diverging destinies” is a term used by family demographers and sociologists to describe growing socioeconomic differentials in family behavior and their implications. Drawing primarily on evidence from the U.S., research on diverging destinies has demonstrated that those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are increasingly engaging in family behaviors that are associated with reduction in the resources available to their children (e.g., nonmarital childbearing) while those at the upper end of the spectrum are engaging in family behaviors associated with increased resources (e.g., stable marriage). This pattern of family bifurcation has potentially important implications for the reinforcement of inequality both within and across generations. Despite tremendous interest in both family change and growing socioeconomic inequality in Japan, social scientific efforts to link these trends are limited. In this talk, Professor James Raymo will summarize the results of several recent papers (both published and in progress) on socioeconomic differences in family demographic behavior and children’s well-being in Japan. In general, the findings of these studies show patterns of family bifurcation consistent with predictions of the diverging destinies framework, but of a magnitude that is less pronounced than observed in the U.S. Among the most pronounced differences in Japan are a strong negative educational gradient in divorce and substantial differences in the well-being of children in single-mother and two-parent families. In thinking about the relevance of diverging destinies in Japan, he stresses the theoretical and empirical value of considering intergenerational family relationships, gender inequality, and the changing economic environment.

This event is sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. 

Contact Information

Julie Kwan