White paper shows Japanese delaying marriage, having children

June 26, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The government’s latest white paper on the nation’s declining birthrate showed the age Japanese women on average are having their first child rising to 30.1 in 2011, surpassing the age of 30 for the first time.

The paper, released June 25, highlighted the factors behind the falling birthrate, such as the advancing average age at which women give birth and a sharp increase in the number of men and women who do not marry.

According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 20.14 percent of men and 10.61 percent of women were not married at age 50 in 2010.

In 1990, the ratio was 5.57 percent for men and 4.33 percent for women. The paper noted a particularly sharp increase for men over the past 20 years.

Moreover, 2011 vital population statistics incorporated into the white paper showed the average age of first marriages for men was 30.7, compared to 29 for women.

More recent data that did not make it into the white paper showed the trends accelerating further.

In 2012, the average age of first marriage increased to 30.8 for men and 29.2 for women, with women giving birth to their first child at the age of 30.3.

As Japan’s birthrate continues to fall, and the population shrinks, that raises concerns over the nation’s rapidly aging population, particularly given the increase in modern life expectancy.

As the working-age population, which bears the burden of pension and medical care costs, decreases, it will become more difficult to maintain the nation’s social security system.

To address Japan’s growing demographic problems, successive administrations have tried to find solutions to counter the falling birthrate.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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A matchmaking party held in Higashi-Kagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, in 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

A matchmaking party held in Higashi-Kagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, in 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • A matchmaking party held in Higashi-Kagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, in 2011 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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