MPIDR Working Paper

Shifting economic foundation of marriage in Japan: the erosion of traditional marriage

Fukuda, S.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-033, 26 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (November 2009)
Open Access


Japan is one of few developed countries in which marriage and higher earning potential among women are negatively associated. As the proportion of births occurring outside of marriage remains low in Japan, fertility is still significantly influenced by marriage trends, which are in turn influenced by societal expectations regarding the marriageability of educated women. Previous studies have suggested that the economic independence associated with higher education is at the root of this negative relationship, but how persistent will this relationship prove to be? As women’s education rapidly catches up with men’s, there is reason to suspect that marriage trends are also in transition. This study examines the latest marriage-related behavior patterns among Japanese women from 2002 onward, focusing on the relationship between women’s economic emancipation and marriage in a gender-traditional society. Using a newly available large panel survey on young adults in Japan, it will demonstrate that the effects of women’s education have reversed, and are now in fact positive.
Keywords: Japan, economic theory, education of women, event history analysis, marriage, mate selection, social change, women's emancipation
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.