Child and Adolescent Poverty Overview

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Academic Background

Forming a research base to tackle, scientifically and systematically, on child and adolescent poverty


Director of research center:
Professor Aya ABE,
Department of Behavioral Social Sciences,
Graduate School of Humanities
Ph. D. (Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy)

Relative poverty has long been one of the serious problems in many developed countries around the world. And, unfortunately, Japan is no exception. Some children in Japan force to live in harsh socioeconomic environments. Japanese used to believe that children were sure to live in comparatively uniform living arrangement. But this assumption is completely mistaken based on the outdated idea of “all-middle class society”. Children at the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy face unacceptable circumstances from the perspective of children’s human rights. In the light of such a serious social condition, the “Child Poverty Policy Promotion Law” has been established unanimously in June 2013, and the “Charter on Countermeasures against Child Poverty” was determined by the Cabinet based on that law in August 2014. However, we do not have any ideas of whole pictures of child poverty, the concrete policies to keep the impacts of poverty to a minimum level, how to minimize the “intergenerational transmission of poverty”, or how to reflect the awareness of problems related to poverty in public opinion and the government.

Academic society, also, used to take child poverty lightly for a long time, but in the latter part of the 2000s, research findings on child and adolescent poverty have accumulated little by little. Even so, however, they are just scattered around the respective academic areas (social welfare studies, economics, sociology, education, medicine, psychology and geography, etc.). Poverty studies have not been recognized one of the structured academic fields in Japan. On the other hand, Europe and the US have already started to understand the complicated mechanism of child poverty.

Relative poverty rate by gender, age group (2012)

首都大学東京 Tokyo Metropolitan University