Whether due to divorce, loss of spouse due to accident or disease or out of lifestyle choice, being a single mother can be difficult, and much has been reported about the economic, social and emotional burdens on women who raise children on their own.
But when some males offer words of empathy, some women have been known to give upbeat responses like, "Well, I only have to cook for my kid, so it's simple." Or "Outlays for food don't come to much any more." Or "We waste a lot less food." Or even, "There's a lot fewer clothes to launder."
So reports "lifestyle journalist" Rika Kashiwagi in Nikkan Gendai (Aug 21), in an article titled, "The merits of being a single mother."
To examine the economic aspects of being unwed, let's look first at the monthly food budget of a husband and wife, which averages around 70,000 yen per month. Remove hubby from the picture and add a child, and the monthly outlay goes down by at least 20,000 yen.
Many communities in Japan, moreover, provide rent subsidies to single-mother households. In Urayasu City in Chiba Prefecture, for example, they can receive as much as 15,000 yen. In Yamato City in Kanagawa Prefecture or Kunitachi City in Tokyo, the monthly stipend comes to 10,000 yen, and other provisions are available for divorcees.
On the national level, a household with one child that earns an annual income of less than 1.6 million yen may be eligible for up to 42,000 yen per month in child support subsidies. If income increases the subsidy goes down, but even at under 3.65 million yen per year, each child will still be entitled to 10,120 yen per month.
A special arrangement is also provided to single-mother households for health insurance. Under this scheme, those with annual income of under 1.3 million bear either 10% of costs or receive treatment for free.
In the case of households where the father does not provide his ex with sufficient child support, other benefits may apply.
In spite of these, Japan is still said to be inferior to many other countries in terms of benefits for single mothers. France, for example, is particularly generous, with some 30 types of family allotments; the amount available for a pre-school child said to be three times that of Japan. The size of the stipend varies depending on income and number of children, but for households with annual income of under the equivalent of 2.3 million yen, according to Kashiwagi, this comes to around of 50,000 to 60,000 yen, with an annual payment of 40,000 yen at the start of the child's new school year. And if mothers' don't take their child to a nursery, they also receive compensation for home care.
While living in Australia, Kashiwagi shared a residence with a 37-year-old single mother and her 3-year old daughter. Without having to hold down a job, the woman was able to attend university, and several years later advanced to a high-paying career.
Kashiwagi added that some communities in Japan supplement single mothers' income with tickets that pay for baby sitter services, a free pass aboard city transport, discounted prices for JR seasonal tickets and so on.
Kashiwagi advises that if divorce is inevitable, a woman at the very least should peruse the home pages of community where she lives, or to where she might consider moving, to confirm what benefits and allotments might be available.© Japan Today