Volume 44 - Article 40 | Pages 979–992  

Introduction to the special collection on family changes and inequality in East Asia

By Hyunjoon Park

This article is part of the Special Collection 30 "Family Changes and Inequality in East Asia"


Background: East Asian societies have experienced rapid social changes, among which the extraordinary expansion of higher education for both women and men, rising economic inequality, and increasing labor market uncertainty should be particularly relevant to family changes. At the same time, gender inequality and traditional gender norms still prevail and shape family life in the region. The eight articles in this special collection share the common interest of how families in East Asia have evolved against a backdrop of growing economic inequality and persistent gender inequality – among other key forces affecting family life – across a variety of family-related outcomes: from singlehood, marriage intentions, and dating, through fertility, the time use of adolescents and parents with young children, and women’s careers, to intergenerational coresidence and the life satisfaction of older parents.

Results: Our eight studies look at connected but distinctive outcomes related to family life, and collectively demonstrate the relevance of increased labor market uncertainty and the continuing male breadwinner norm to emerging patterns of family behavior in East Asia. They illustrate specific ways in which East Asian families are shaped by the joint forces of economic inequality and gender inequality.

Contribution: This volume highlights the complexity and heterogeneity of contemporary East Asian families, inviting family and demography researchers to conduct more studies on under-researched family behaviors such as cohabitation and nonmarital births and to revisit the conventional perception that family ties are strong and family support is readily available in East Asia.

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Trends and educational variation in the association between spouses’ marital histories in South Korea, 1993–2017
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US baby boomers’ homeownership trajectories across the life course: A Sequence Analysis approach
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Diverging gaps in childcare time by parental education in South Korea
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Long-term trends in living alone among Korean adults: Age, gender, and educational differences
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Effects of single parenthood on educational aspiration and student disengagement in Korea
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