"The Decline of Asian Marriage"
I read an interesting article in "The Economist" last month about "The Decline of Asian Marriage." In Asia, divorce is not common, but marriage rates are falling. People are getting married later in life or not marrying at all. For Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, the mean age of marriage for women is 29-30 and for men is 31-33. About 20% of women in their late 30's from these countries are single and will likely never marry.
As more women go into the workplace, fewer are getting married. Financial independence has given women the option not to marry. Often, it's women who are responsible for caring for their husbands, children, and aging parents, even while working full-time. Japanese women, who work about 40 hours a week in the office, come home and do another 30 hours of housework. Their husbands, on average, do about 3 hours. More education has also contributed to the declining marriage rate, because the more educated a woman is, the less likely she is to marry.
As a result of fewer marriages, there is also a declining birth rate in these countries. Fertility rates in East Asia have gone from 5.3 children per woman in the late 1960's to 1.6 currently. What implications does this have in a society where the rapidly growing aging population depends upon a younger shrinking population to care for them?
What can be done? The article suggests that relaxing Divorce laws and altering Family laws might encourage more to marry by making it easier to leave an unhappy marriage and less financially devastating if a divorce occurs. Legislating more maternal and paternal leave, as well as providing childcare, may also help take some of the burden off of working women and make marriage more appealing.
What are some of your thoughts on this?