Why does Japan have a low marriage rate?
Experts have attributed the trend to several factors, including a growing desire among young working women to enjoy the freedoms that come with being single and having a career. Men say they also enjoy being single, but also voice concern over job security and their ability to provide for a family.
The fertility rate of married couples declined from 2.2 in 1971 to 1.9 in 2021. As children born to unmarried couples account for just 2 per cent of children in Japan, the primary factor for the falling TFR is the continuously declining marriage ratio. Yet there are few policies in place to reverse this trend.
Alternatively, the divorce rate in Japan is low compared to the U.S. and Europe because dependency between the spouses is greater, alternatives to marriage are fewer, and the legacy of the traditional gender division of labor continues to influence the actions and attitudes of men and women.
Many younger Japanese have balked at marrying or having families, discouraged by bleak job prospects, onerous commutes and corporate cultures incompatible with having both parents work. The number of births has been falling since 1973, when it peaked at about 2.1 million. It's projected to fall to 740,000 in 2040.
“The main reason they have for staying single is wanting to use their money on themselves. There is a common perception that for men, marriage means having their freedom to use money restricted. This is in direct opposition to women listing 'financial security' as one of the benefits of getting married.”
Many women in the latest report said they did not want to tie the knot because marriage could lead to additional burdens, “such as work, household chores, raising children and caring for elderly parents.” Many men cited “unstable employment” or “a lack of earning power to maintain a married life.”
In 2021, Japan registered 4.1 new marriages per one thousand inhabitants, less than half of the ten marriages per one thousand in 1970.
Almost 90% of unmarried Japanese intend to marry, and yet the percentage of people who do not continues to rise. Between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of 50 year-old people who had never married roughly quadrupled for men to 20.1%, and doubled for women to 10.6%.
There is no existence of the legal concept of joint custody in Japan and women are most commonly fully responsible for their children post-divorce. Less than half of the women receive any alimony or child support payments at all.
Proportion of Remarriages Among Marriages in Japan.
Which country has the lowest divorce rate and why?
Vietnam has the lowest divorce rate in the world, with 0.2 divorces per 1,000 people. Sri Lanka follows at 0.2 divorces per 1,000 people, and Peru comes in third with 0.2 divorces per 1,000 people.
Japan has not followed the trend of other countries — even those not considered 'advanced democracies' — in closing the gender gap. Japan's poor GGI ranking is due to women holding low status positions in the workforce and the underrepresentation of women in politics.
Marriage in Japan is a legal and social institution at the center of the household (ie). Couples are legally married once they have made the change in status on their family registration sheets, without the need for a ceremony.
A lack of political empowerment and economic participation/opportunity are the key issues for Japan. Women earn only 44% of what men do at work and have little decision-making authority in business or politics. Progress on gender equality continues to fall vastly short of the Japanese government's stated intentions.
The reason for the shift mostly lies in differing lifestyles and physical constitutions of men and women. In general, women tend to be more resistant to disease throughout life, while men tend to engage in higher risk behavior or violence.