NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 7, 2004

More Japanese men and women are eschewing relationships and marriage in favor of the single life, and the country's declining birthrate means that fewer working-age Japanese will support an exploding elderly population.

As fewer Japanese choose to marry and have children, the nation may soon face a "demographic crisis":

  • Fifty-four percent of Japanese women in their late 20s are single, up from 30.6 percent in 1985; about half of single women ages 35 to 54 have no plans to marry.
  • The average Japanese couple now produces just 1.32 children, far below the minimum 2.08 needed to grow the population.
  • Japan's divorce rate rose from 1.3 per 1,000 people to 2.3 between 1990 and 2002.
  • Japan now has four working-age people to support one of today's retirees, but by mid-century that ratio will have dropped to two workers per retiree.

Growing numbers of young Japanese workers"particularly women" are choosing to live at home, rent-free, while spending their money on designer clothes and vacations abroad. These "parasite singles" tend to avoid dating; many women claim that there simply aren't enough good men to marry.

Source: Paul Wiseman, "No sex please - we're Japanese," USA Today, June 3, 2004.


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