Marriage intentions, desires, and pathways to later and less marriage in Japan

James M. Raymo, Fumiya Uchikoshi, Shohei Yoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Understanding the trend toward later and less marriage is particularly important in lowfertility societies where alternatives to marriage are limited and childbearing outside of marriage remains rare. OBJECTIVE Our goal in this paper is to advance our understanding of the wide variety of explanations offered for later and less marriage in Japan by focusing explicitly on marriage intentions and desires. METHODS Using two sources of nationally representative data, we describe the prevalence of positive, negative, and passive marriage intentions and desires among men and women who have never been married. We also examine socioeconomic differences in intentions, patterns of marriage desires across young adulthood, and relationships between marriage desires and outcomes. By linking three pathways to later and less marriage (rejection of marriage, failure to realize marriage desires, and unplanned drifting into singlehood) to specific theoretical frameworks, we generate indirect insights into explanations for later and less marriage. CONCLUSIONS Although the large majority of unmarried men and women want to marry, less than half of respondents married across nine waves of the Japanese Life Course Panel Survey. Among those who remained unmarried, roughly two-thirds can be classified as ‘drifting’ into singlehood, about 30% as ‘failing to realize marriage desires,’ and no more than 5% as ‘rejecting marriage.’

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-98
Number of pages32
JournalDemographic Research
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography


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