Fertility decline in Japan since the 1970s : socio-ecomic factors or attitudinal factors?
This study investigates the influence of socio-economic and attitudinal factors on recent changes in marriage and fertility in Japan. Using macroand micro-data (collected especially for this research), the study examines the validity of three main theories: (1) the New Home Economics theory; (2) Easterlin's theory; and (3) the ideational (or attitudinal) theory in detemining Japanese marriage and fertility behaviour. The findings of this study show that socio-economic factors exert a substantial effect on Japanese marriage and fertility behaviour. More specifically, an increase in women's earning capacity raised their marriage age, lowered the level of their fertility, and lengthened their birth intervals. This evidence is in agreement with the New Home Economics theory. On the other hand, relative economic status also affected Japanese marriage and fertility behaviour. An improvement in the economic situation of young adults encouraged them to marry earlier, and to have more children. These findings support Easterlin's theory. However, comparing the two theories, the longitudinal trend of marriage and fertility pattern in Japan is better explained by the New Home Economics theory than Easterlin's theory. The level of women's wages had a relatively stronger impact on these patterns than their relative economic status. The findings also reveal that attitudinal factors play a significant role in determining Japanese marriage and fertility behaviour. As women became less committed to traditional norms and values, they married later, had fewer children and lengthened their birth intervals. Likewise, the reinforcement of women's individualistic attitudes raised their marriage age, lowered the level of their fertility, and delayed their entry to parenthood. This evidence indicates that marriage and fertility pattern in Japan cannot be due entirely to socio-economic factors. Comparing socio-economic and attitudinal factors, the former had a greater influence on marriage and fertility behaviour than the latter. We conclude from the findings of this study that Japanese marriage and fertility behaviour are affected both by socio-economic and attitudinal (ideational) factors, but the influence of the latter is secondary.