Some 4.5 million Japanese aged between 35 and 54 were living with their parents in 2016, according to a researcher at the Statistical Research and Training Institute on a demographic phenomena that emerged two decades ago, when youthful singles made headlines for mooching off parents to lead carefree lives.

Now, without pensions or savings of their own, these middle-aged stay-at-homes threaten to place an extra burden on a social welfare system that is already creaking under pressure from Japan's aging population and shrinking workforce.


And since about 20 percent of the middle-aged stay-at-home singles rely on parents for support, they also threaten to weigh on social safety nets. "Once they use up inherited assets and savings, when nothing is left, they will go on the dole," Yamada said.

The rise in those shunning marriage, experts say, is due not only to more diverse lifestyles but to an increase in low-paying, unstable jobs. Part-timers, temps or contract workers now account for nearly 40 percent of the workforce compared to about 20 percent in the 1980s.

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