Residential Property, Cultural Practices and the ‘Generational Contract’ in England and Japan


Throughout the post‐war period, there have been increased prospects of inheritance in many capitalist societies, brought about by growing economies and labour markets as well as growth in the homeownership sector. This article aims to examine the commonalities and differences in views and strategies adopted by older homeowners in England and Japan towards accumulation of their housing assets and the disposal of them in later life. Changes in housing markets, social policy, and family structure and function affecting older homeowners in recent years have started to alter their attitudes towards bequests. Qualitative data from in‐depth interviews with older homeowners highlighted that independent living and the principle of equal shares among children are strongly valued by English elders. In Japan, the ‘generational contract’ involving inheritance and care provision is no longer as clear‐cut as it once was, and the contradictions and ambiguities in attitudes and practices exhibited by the current older cohort clearly illustrate the current transition.