The new socioeconomic marriage differentials in Japan

Setsuya Fukuda, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Tokyo

The new socioeconomic marriage differentials are international phenomena. Women with high education or high income used to be less likely to marry than their lower educated or less waged counterparts in the past. However, the trends are now opposite in the US, Australia and New Zealand, some of European countries, and most recently reported in Taiwan. The new socioeconomic marriage differentials are enforced by a raising trend in female tertiary education and increasing educational homogamy. It also reflects the trend toward more egalitarian spousal role sharing. In particular, a wife’s economic contribution through employment becomes important strategy for a couple to achieve higher living standards. In Japan, previous studies showed that women’s economic well-being was negatively associated with marriage. Women with higher education and higher income tended to marry later and were less likely to marry. More recent studies, however, demonstrate that this relationship has reversed in the 2000s. However, much less is known about the new relationship between women’s economic standing and the likelihood of marriage in Japan. First, whether these new evidences are truly a population trend as they are based on panel data analysis of rather selective cohorts. Second, whether the emerging marriage pattern suggests an increasing trend of socioeconomic homogamy in Japan. These are crucial questions to assess the social impacts of the recent marriage trends in Japan. This study will be the one of the first studies to provide insights into the emerging patterns of Japanese marriages based on high quality multiple data sources from census, vital statistics and nationally representative large scaled surveys. By employing Schoen’s harmonic-mean model, my analyses of Japanese marriage market will seek to uncover the structural and behavioral changes in patterns of overall marriage and assortative mating, i.e., who marries with whom with respect to educational and occupational characteristics.

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Presented in Session 60: Special thematic session on family systems and transitions