Wednesday, November 21, 2012

(Married and) Unmarried Japanese Women

One of the social issues that Japan currently faces is a deflated birth rate. Combined with the country's aging population, this trend, if unaddressed, is going to cause some serious economic (and perhaps other) problems in the future. I'm not sure whether it's related to my own personal feelings and experiences, but for some reason I find myself very interested in this topic.

Recently I came across a couple of pages on Yahoo! Japan related to marriage in Japan. First off - a poll about how married couples met:

Honestly some of the results are a little depressing (as a single guy who'd like to get married at some point), but I don't know how these numbers compare to America. On the right side, the first question asks at what age you met your partner. For women, the average was 24.3 years old. For guys, 25.6. The number below that indicates what percentage of men and women met their partner in their 20's. 82.6% of women and 77.3% of men. The clock is ticking, I guess.

The chart on the left is pretty interesting, if only for #5. It lists the top 5 ways individuals met their partners. The answers are as follows:

#1. At work
#2. Introduced by a friend
#3. Met in school
#4. Gokon (these are kind of like group blind dates that have become a popular way to meet people)
#5. Social networking sites

Online, really? Japanese people have always struck me as very private about their personal information online. I'm pretty surprised that so many Japanese people have actually met in real life and gotten married after meeting online.

The second thing I wanted to share is an article about some findings on why unmarried women in Japan are unmarried. This article highlights the top two reasons why, the second of which strikes me as the larger issue:

#1. Don't have a partner (33.2%) [For example their workplace is filled with mostly women]
#2. Have a partner but "it's difficult" (24%) [Examples include "he isn't interested in marriage," "not enough income," and "don't like his parents."]

One revealing response matches up with something mentioned in a Sapio article I read a little while back (maybe one of these days I can get around to blogging about it, oi!). The respondent says that she wants someone who makes at least 6,000,000 yen per year. That's almost $73,000. Given today's economic climate and the earning potential of younger folk, that strikes me as a somewhat unrealistic expectation.

Not being able to find a boyfriend or girlfriend is a discouraging situation, and that seems to be the #1 case for unmarried J women. As for #2, there are definitely certain practical issues that should inform whether or not someone gets married. Money is a concern, certainly. But no situation is perfect, and personally I'd rather hitch my wagon to someone I love and who treats me well over someone making a couple figures more on her pay check. And although there are some who say "you marry the family," I also wouldn't let the prospect of bad in-laws deter me from being with someone I was otherwise crazy about. But well, each to his (or her) own, I suppose.

I'd be interested to see how these results compare with women from the U.S. and other countries.

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