Who is happier, unmarried women living alone or unmarried women living with parents?
In Japan, unmarried women have been increasing, and along with this trend, the ratio of unmarried women living with their parents has also increased. However, few studies examined the association between living arrangements and subjective well-being (SWB). This study fills this gap by focusing on the relationship between living arrangements and the SWB of unmarried women using the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (JPSC). The analysis results using the fixed effect model present four findings. First, the impact of living alone changes with the age of unmarried women. In the 20s and 30s, the happiness of unmarried women living alone is higher than that of unmarried women living with their parents. Meanwhile, the impact of living alone reverses over 40 years old, meaning that the happiness of unmarried women living alone is lower than that of unmarried women living with their parents. Second, in the case of unmarried women over 40 years old when parents live in the same municipality, the negative impact of living alone is not observed. However, when parents live far away, a statistically significant negative impact of living alone is found. Third, living alone for unmarried women over 40 harms mental health indicators such as anxiety in life, depression, difficulty concentrating, and loneliness. Fourth, the analysis that focuses on married women to find out the differences with unmarried women indicates that three generations of parents, children, and grandchildren living together decreases the happiness of married women.