Family structure in Japan

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Traditional family

The traditional family was patriarchal and patrilineal as a general rule: the line of descent was male, and men were in the top positions within households. Upon marriage, the woman moved in with the man's family. The eldest son generally lived with the parents and continued the family line.

Women could be returned to their parents' home any time between marriage and the birth of the first child, for reasons ranging from unsatisfactory domestic service to inability to produce heirs.

When the patriarch and his wife reached retirement, the son and his wife took up leadership positions within the family.

Marriage was generally arranged marriage and viewed as a liaison between households rather than individuals.

Salaryman family

This is a new family structure that arose after World War II with the rise of salaried office jobs. It was a form of nuclear family structure (possibly with some live-in parents in the case of the eldest son).

  • The man of the family (the husband) generally spent most of his time working, and often socialized at work rather than at the home, where he was considered out of place by his family. He worked hard during the day and relaxed at night.
  • The woman of the family (The wife) spent her time in domestic production, childrearing, and managing finances. She had a relatively relaxed day but was expected to serve her husband at night.

The period saw increases in the education levels of both men and woman. Educated men were sought for their greater earning potential. Educated women were sought because it was believed they'll be better able to raise children, particularly given that their husbands won't be around often enough physically to help.

New family of the 1970s

This was fairly similar to the salaryman family but with some differences in the direction of American family structure:

  • More marriages were based on love before marriage.
  • Families spent more time together in the early years.

However, in later years, as the children grew older and the family needed more money for their education, the husband spent more time working (to earn more money) and the wife spent more time helping the children with their studies.