Very little is known about recent trends in divorce in Japan. In this paper, we use Japanese vital statistics and census data to describe trends in the experience of marital dissolution across the life course, and to examine change over time in educational differentials in divorce. Cumulative probabilities of marital dissolution have increased rapidly across successive marriage cohorts over the past twenty years, and synthetic period estimates suggest that roughly one-third of Japanese marriages are now likely to end in divorce. Estimates of educational differentials also indicate a rapid increase in the extent to which divorce is concentrated at lower levels of education. While educational differentials were negligible in 1980, by 2000, women who had not gone beyond high school were far more likely to be divorced than those with more education.
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