Handbook on East Asian Social Policy
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Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Edited by Misa Izuhara

Dramatic socio-economic transformations over the last two decades have brought social policy and social welfare issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. Since the 1990s and in response to national as well as global pressure, there have been substantial developments and reforms in social policy in the region but the development paths have been uneven. Until recently, comparative analysis of East Asian social policy tends to have focused on the established welfare state of Japan and the emerging welfare regimes of four ‘Tiger Economies’. Much of the recent debate indeed preceded China’s re-emergence onto the world economy. In this context, this Handbook brings China more fully into the contemporary social policy debates in East Asia. Organised around five themes from welfare state developments, to theories and methodologies, to current social policy issues, the Handbook presents original research from leading specialists in the fields, and provides a fresh and updated perspective to the study of social policy.
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Chapter 8: Transitional generations? The contrasting experiences of the 30-somethings in China and Japan

Ray Forrest and Misa Izuhara


This chapter focuses particularly on the ‘30-somethings’– those who are currently in their 30s, typically born in the mid-1970sto early 1980s – in Japan and China. In any society, this group is of particular interest for several reasons. At this stage in their life-course, people are generally expected to be living independently, probably with a partner, perhaps with a young child or children and with maturing job plans and prospects. Their parents may well be approaching retirement, and they will be in that phase when the intergenerational balance begins to shift. From being dependent on, they will become more depended upon. Housing will be a particularly important factor. The high cost of buying housing and eligibility rules regarding access to social housing may have been a major factor in delaying a move to independent living in relation to cohabiting or marriage and with regard to having children. These interconnections between work, family and housing will, however, vary across different cultures and over time. Norms and expectations will also vary in relation to age of marriage and the pattern of departure from the family home (Forrest and Yip, 2013). Different cohorts of 30-somethingswill also face different socio-economic conditions, different policy regimes and different opportunity structures.

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