Aya Ezawa is university lecturer in the sociology of Japan at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Born and raised in Germany, she obtained her BA in Japanese studies from Sophia University in Tokyo and received her PhD in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research has focused on the gender and class dimensions of social policy in Japan and in comparative perspective, and the life stories and trajectories of single mothers. Her most recent research examines the impact of the history and memory of WWII on children born of war in the Dutch East Indies.
This project examines the impact of welfare reform on lone mothers ' well-being in Japan and the United States. Due to an increase in divorced and unmarried mothers and rising demand for public support, welfare programs for lone mothers have recently been subject to significant restructuring in both countries, leading to the enforcement of work instead of welfare support as the main source of lone mothers' livelihood. This project examines welfare-to-work programs in both countries, and based on in-depth interviews with lone mothers, evaluates their potential impact on lone mothers' welfare. Such research should add to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of welfare reforms, which should be of interest to policy makers in Japan, the United States and other countries. Besides providing concrete policy recommendations, the project will contribute to discussions of gendered aspects of the labor market and the role of state intervention in supporting women's welfare and independence.