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Late Marriage and Less Marriage in Japan


  • Robert D. Retherford
  • Naohiro Ogawa
  • Rikiya Matsukura


Between 1975 and 1995, the singulate mean age at marriage in Japan increased from 24.5 to 27.7 years for women and from 27.6 to 30.7 years for men, making Japan one of the latest-marrying populations in the world. Over the same period, the proportion of women who will never marry, calculated from age-specific first-marriage probabilities pertaining to a particular calendar year, increased from 5 to 15 percent for women and from 6 to 22 percent for men-behaviors sharply different from those characterizing the universal-marriage society of earlier years. This article investigates how and why these changes have come about. The reasons are bound up with rapid educational gains by women, massive increases in the proportion of women who work for pay outside the home, major changes in the structure and functioning of the marriage market, extraordinary increases in the prevalence of premarital sex, and far-reaching changes in values relating to marriage and family life. Copyright 2001 by The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Robert D. Retherford & Naohiro Ogawa & Rikiya Matsukura, 2001. "Late Marriage and Less Marriage in Japan," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 65-102.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:27:y:2001:i:1:p:65-102

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ogawa, Naohiro & Ermisch, John F, 1996. "Family Structure, Home Time Demands, and the Employment Patterns of Japanese Married Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 677-702, October.
    2. Ogawa, Naohiro & Clark, Robert L, 1995. "Earnings Patterns of Japanese Women: 1976-1988," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 293-313, January.
    3. Clark, Robert L & Ogawa, Naohiro, 1992. "Employment Tenure and Earnings Profiles in Japan and the United States: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 336-345, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wei-hsin Yu & Janet Chen-Lan Kuo, 2016. "Explaining the Effect of Parent-Child Coresidence on Marriage Formation: The Case of Japan," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(5), pages 1283-1318, October.
    2. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2005. "Social Effects, Household Time Allocation, and the Decline in Union Formation: Working Paper 2005-07," Working Papers 16517, Congressional Budget Office.
    3. Ono, Hiroshi, 2004. "Divorce in Japan: Why It Happens, Why It Doesn’t," EIJS Working Paper Series 201, Stockholm School of Economics, The European Institute of Japanese Studies, revised 26 Jan 2006.
    4. Sam Hyun Yoo, 2016. "Postponement and recuperation in cohort marriage: The experience of South Korea," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(35), pages 1045-1078, October.
    5. Joshua R. Goldstein & Tomáš Sobotka & Aiva Jasilioniene, 2009. "The end of 'lowest-low' fertility? (with supplementary materials)," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-029, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    6. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto & Sevilla, Almudena, 2007. "Household Division of Labor, Partnerships and Children: Evidence from Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 2884, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Eva Sierminska, 2004. "Female Income Differentials and Social Benefits: A Four Country Comparison," LIS Working papers 377, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    8. Narayan, Paresh Kumar & Peng, Xiujian, 2007. "Japan's fertility transition: Empirical evidence from the bounds testing approach to cointegration," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 263-278, March.
    9. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2007. "Division of Household Labor and Cross-Country Differences in Household Formation Rates," Economics Series Working Papers 325, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    10. Setsuya Fukuda, 2009. "Shifting economic foundation of marriage in Japan: the erosion of traditional marriage," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-033, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    11. James M. Raymo & Larry L. Bumpass & Miho Iwasawa, 2004. "Marital Dissolution in Japan," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 11(14), pages 395-420, December.
    12. Toru Ota & Makoto Kakinaka & Koji Kotani, 2017. "Demographic effects on residential electricity and city gas consumption in aging society of Japan," Working Papers SDES-2017-7, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Jun 2017.

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