A record proportion of men and women in Japan say they have no intention of getting married, a trend that experts say will undermine efforts to address the country’s demographic crisis.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security, a body affiliated with the Tokyo government, said the results of its 2021 survey, released this month, would add to concerns about the low birth rate.
According to the survey, 17.3% of men and 14.6% of women aged 18-34 said they never intended to marry, the highest figure since the questionnaire was was first made in 1982.
In this survey, conducted just before the rise of the economic bubble in the mid-1980s, only 2.3% of men and 4.1% of women said they would never marry.
Falling marriages have had consequences for Japan’s birth rate, which faces the prospect of dramatic depopulation and a shrinking labor force and economy.
Experts have attributed this 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.
The men say they also like being single, but also worry about job security and their ability to support a family. Experts have called on the government to make it easier for women to return to work after having children and to address Japan’s notoriously long working hours.
When asked what constitutes an “ideal” lifestyle for women, nearly 40% of single men and 34% of single women surveyed cited the ability to balance a career with raising children. In a sign of a change in attitude towards gender roles, less than 7% of men said they would like their future wife to stay home to take care of the family.
Shigeki Matsuda, a sociology professor at Chukyo University in central Japan, said the downward trend in marriage would have a negative effect on the birth rate.
“The Japanese government has been trying to increase the birth rate by trying to help those who want to get married or have children to achieve their aspirations,” he told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
“But if the number of people who don’t want to get married continues to rise, the government will be forced to revise its policies, and this could lead to a further decline in fertility.”
The number of babies born in Japan in 2021 fell by 29,231, or 3.5 percent, from a year earlier to a record high of 811,604, the health ministry said in June. The number of marriages fell from 24,391 to 501,116, the lowest figure since the end of World War II.
Government data released in May showed Japan’s population fell by a record 644,000 last year, the 11th consecutive year of decline. The data prompted an intervention from Elon Musk, who warned that Japan will ‘cease to exist’ unless it relaxes immigration rules and does more to promote a better work-life balance. healthy.
Tesla’s chief executive has come under fire on social media for “overreacting” and picking Japan, given that it’s not the only developed economy experiencing long-term population decline.