Thursday, August 25, 2011

Decreasing Marriage Rates in Asia

According to an article in The Economist, marriage rates in Asia are decreasing dramatically - partl because there are just more men (by 2050, there will be 60m more men of marriageable age than women) and partly because it is more advantageous for women to remain single. Education, business, health care and urbanization all improve the lives of single women, while the lives of marriage women stay the same in traditionally family-oriented cultures.

In Asian cultures, women with the least education are more likely to marry. In the West, however, women with degrees are more likely to marry. I theorize that this is because of a woman's role in a poor family. Among poor Asians, a daughter is another mouth to feed: send her away to take care of her (potentially wealthier) in-laws. Among poor Westerners, a daughter is another contributer to her family's funds: why send her away to fund another family?

Also, cohabitation rates have risen in the West while marriage has fallen. This reflects on the poor image we have of marriage: it's expensive to begin and to end (and there's a 50% chance it'll end). The habits of cohabitating couples aren't different from those of married couples. In Asia, though, the extremely low rate of cohabitation hasn't changed. The low rate of marrying women doesn't reflect on marriage, but on a traditional woman's role when she isn't single. They don't want their mothers' lives: they don't want to take care of anyone other than themselves.

Ther are also far fewer options in Asia for working mothers than in the West.

Come the 2050 sex divide, perhaps there will be an influx in clergy. People have used religious vocation to solve social/economic problems before. This article suggests that the 60m unmarriable men will topple the concept of universal marriage. I wonder if an honorable role for these men will be formed - clergy has been the common way to do that in previous times.

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