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Decomposing Youth Poverty in 22 Countries


contexts. Although the rates of youth poverty in East Asian

countries are lower than in most Western countries, this

observation may obscure the economic struggles of young East

Asian adults. Our findings suggest that whereas youth

unemployment has been increasing and the wage gaps between

young and prime-age adults have been growing wider, East Asian

families assume responsibility for the institutional gap for personal

economic security from late teens through early adulthood.

Furthermore, given limited social provisions for young and old,

particularly in Taiwan and South Korea, prime-age Taiwanese and

Korean adults may be overwhelmed by the responsibility of

supporting both their children and their elderly parents. As long as

the support for young and old relies on the family, youth

unemployment and other youth-related issues may remain

“invisible” to East Asian governments

(Inaba, 2011).

In addition, prolonged residential and economic dependency

may delay young adults’ acquisition of autonomy and limit their

decisions about their family formation and career establishment,

both of which may in turn hinder the development of the society

(Allyón, 2009). Previous studies have shown that extended

coresidence with parents is associated with young adults’ longer

spells of poverty in Southern European countries (Allyón, 2009).

In contrast, although young Scandinavian adults are at high risk of

poverty after leaving the parental home, they exit poverty quickly

with more comprehensive social provisions (Allyón, 2015). In

addition, extremely low fertility has been observed in countries

where intergenerational living arrangements prevail (e.g. East Asia

and Southern Europe). For example, the total fertility rate plunged

to 0.9 for Taiwan in 2010 and 1.2 for South Korea and 1.3 for

Spain in 2015 (Ministry of the Interior, 2015; World Bank, 2015).

These findings suggest that extended residential and economic

dependence of young adults affect not only the economic

well-being of young adults and their family members, but also the

progression of individuals’ life course and the development of the