Rethinking the “Retreat From Marriage” in Japan

James M M. Raymo , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Shohei Yoda, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research
Fumiya Uchikoshi, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research on the so-called “retreat from marriage” has paid surprisingly little attention to marriage intentions, especially intentions to never marry. In this study, we use two sources of nationally-representative data to examine the prevalence and correlates of intentions to never marry in Japan as well as the longer-term life outcomes associated with such intentions. Three key findings from our preliminary analyses are: the prevalence of intentions not to marry has increased over time, intentions not to marry are only weakly related to most of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics we examined, and marriage intentions are not particularly stable within individuals. We discuss the extent to which patterns we observe are (not) consistent with notions of “drifting” into singlehood in Japan and consider the potentially important implications of results for our understanding of both declining marriage and fertility and the effectiveness of wide-ranging policy efforts to promote family formation in Japan.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity