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News Asahi survey: Fear over future keeps Japanese from marrying, having children

thomas

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A nation in fear. Why young Japanese are reluctant to tie the knot and have children.

Many Japanese want to marry and have children but are hesitating to do so due to financial and other obstacles, two Asahi Shimbun surveys have found. Economic instability among young people and temporary workers is making many put off or abandon the idea. Despite wanting to get hitched, many Japanese also said they don't feel it is necessary for them to do so. Fifty per cent said one “should not necessarily marry” in a mail survey the Asahi conducted in November and December. Respondents who said people “should marry if possible,” fell to 48 per cent from 59 per cent in an Asahi survey conducted in 2012. Younger women tended not to view marriage as essential. Seventy-eight per cent of female respondents aged 18 to 29 said people should not necessarily marry, whereas half of the women in their 50s to 60s felt that way.

Seventy-seven per cent, comprising 27 per cent who want to wed “as soon as possible” and 50 per cent who want to “someday,” said they hope to marry in the future. While 75 per cent of men had the desire, 80 per cent of female respondents said they want to marry. But only 59 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women said they think they “will be able to marry at some point in the future.” Lower-income earners tended to answer that they “cannot marry” and “do not have someone to date.” Eighty-five per cent of female respondents said they take into account the type of employment of their would-be spouses, such as whether they are permanent or temporary employees. “Japanese women think stability is more important than their foreign counterparts,” Yamada said.

And while money can't buy you love, it can still get you a spouse:

For 72 per cent of women, their partner's income is a “non-negotiable condition” for marriage. A potential marriage partner's annual income must be “at least 4 million yen ($36,900),” 41 per cent said. When combined with those who set targets of “6 million yen,” “8 million yen” and “10 million yen,” the ratio rises to 63 per cent. Meeting the women’s “condition” for marriage is a difficult task for temporary workers. Male temporary employees earn just 2.29 million yen a year while male permanent workers earn 5.48 million yen, according to a 2017 National Tax Agency survey.

Source: Fear over future keeps Japanese from marrying, having children - The Asahi Shimbun
 

Uncle Frank

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My wife and I never had kids because of money worries. We felt we wanted to buy a home before we had children. Back than mortgage rates were at 22% and finding a home we could afford took us a long time. Not long after we finally found a home our old cars needed to be replaced. So with a house payment and two car payments , we figured we had better put off having children again for a bit. Now in our late thirties and early forties , we decided we were too old to have kids and gave up on the idea. It never really bothered us to not have kids and we got to travel and doo more. The down side now is , no one to help us in our old age and I sure would like to have some grand children to spoil.
 

mdchachi

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The early 80s was not a time to buy a home! But I sure would like to have some of those long-term government bonds from that era.

If only people who could afford kids had them, there would be a very low birth rate indeed.
 

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This dovetails nicely with the other thread about working women and the burden they have of doing the cooking, cleaning, child raising, and house management. Its not a very attractive future, and I sympathize with the women who want more from life than the drudgery of a thankless office job followed by an equally thankless home life dominated by the drudgery of cleaning, homework, and bento-making while the old man is out at the pub, justifying his booze-ups by telling her its for the good of the family.
 

musicisgood

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My wife and I never had kids because of money worries. We felt we wanted to buy a home before we had children. Back than mortgage rates were at 22% and finding a home we could afford took us a long time. Not long after we finally found a home our old cars needed to be replaced. So with a house payment and two car payments , we figured we had better put off having children again for a bit. Now in our late thirties and early forties , we decided we were too old to have kids and gave up on the idea. It never really bothered us to not have kids and we got to travel and doo more. The down side now is , no one to help us in our old age and I sure would like to have some grand children to spoil.

Having no children living in a country that one lives in is a state that the wife and I are now facing. Just us 2, that's it. Not sure what will happen when old age illnesses set in. Next door to us is a day care center for the disabled elderly. Kind of scary when I think about the unknown that lay ahead .
 

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Kind of scary when I think about the unknown that lay ahead .

I think that applies even when you do have children.
 

mdchachi

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Having no children living in a country that one lives in is a state that the wife and I are now facing. Just us 2, that's it. Not sure what will happen when old age illnesses set in. Next door to us is a day care center for the disabled elderly. Kind of scary when I think about the unknown that lay ahead .
Hopefully there will be patient and caring robot helpers ready to assist us by the time we are in need! The fact that they pulled the plug on the robot hotel is not a good sign though.
 
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thomas

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Hopefully there will be patient and caring robot helpers ready to assist us by the time we are in need! The fact that they pulled the plug on the robot hotel is not a good sign though.

It's reassuring to know that humans are still indispensable. ;)
 

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If you can find some way to grow food and catch fish or something it can work if you have good traditional values. In Utah in the USA the Mormon people raise one cow and one pig and grow a garden every year. They can sustain 5 children or so. You just need to not be afraid and face life. Groups could even work together to help each other raise their children. It's very important that Japanese people have children or there will be no future for Japan. No one else can be Japanese.
 

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If you can find some way to grow food and catch fish or something it can work if you have good traditional values. In Utah in the USA the Mormon people raise one cow and one pig and grow a garden every year. They can sustain 5 children or so. You just need to not be afraid and face life. Groups could even work together to help each other raise their children. It's very important that Japanese people have children or there will be no future for Japan. No one else can be Japanese.
There's going to be no future for the world unless we both stabilise and start to reduce the world population and reduce our individual environmental impact. Japan with its slowly declining population is inadvertantly doing the right thing. Sorry, but I think that planning to have five children in a country with extremely low child mortality is the height of irresponsibility.
 

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I had missed the Henna hotel (robot hotel) decomissioning half its robots. We last stayed in Huis Ten Bosch in 2016 but we didn't stay there but I was always a little curious, wife much less so.

On children and old age I would not count on them to help you. Even in Japan they tend to move away and deal with their own careers and lives much like in the west. That said I did reproduce. I also worry a little about my parents in law in a decade or so whose two children moved away one to Tokyo somewhat estranged and one I took to America.

On growing food to raise a family as Chip said that will work well in the country but so many people are concentrating in cities for jobs. People want jobs to have nice things we want likely somewhat via advertising, I am no exception.

It very rarely makes financial sense to ever have children if you look at it from that view. A hundred years ago or more it made sense to get help on the farm, you needed the labor. Now they are a huge expense with all the school fees, and activities, day care etc. These days if you have children to have them have a better chance of getting a good education and support to "make it" one has to have less than previous generations. I also notice that a lot of more wealthy populations like within the US and Europe or Japan reproduce less.

In Japan one has no good vision of future employment, the US has a certain degree of that with regular restructurings as well.

Lothor has a good point on the global population vs resources problem and potential positives on reduced population.

I certainly do not have the answers
 
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I tend to think that this whole issue is probably just a symptom of overpopulation, especially world overpopulation. Overpopulation drives wages down, which makes it a lot harder and more relatively expensive to raise a family. Even over here in the States, I probably would have given similar answers as those Japanese women; as much as I'd like to raise a family, the fact of the matter is you can't do it particularly well if both parents have to work or if income is sporadic. I tend to suspect that ill-prepared parents are a cause of a lot of problems in the West, especially the U.S.

So in a sense, yeah, what Japanese people are doing is exactly the sort of thing the world needs. It's probably a good thing for the Japanese citizenry, too. At the same time, though, losing population definitely sucks for the nation it happens to. It would be nice if the rest of the world would do the same thing: stop having kids unless you can really afford them and really take care of them. Hard to say how that can be achieved, though, especially in the U.S. where the poor having kids is subsidized by various programs and tax breaks.
 

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I tend to think that this whole issue is probably just a symptom of overpopulation, especially world overpopulation. Overpopulation drives wages down, which makes it a lot harder and more relatively expensive to raise a family. Even over here in the States, I probably would have given similar answers as those Japanese women; as much as I'd like to raise a family, the fact of the matter is you can't do it particularly well if both parents have to work or if income is sporadic. I tend to suspect that ill-prepared parents are a cause of a lot of problems in the West, especially the U.S.

Hard to say how that can be achieved, though, especially in the U.S. where the poor having kids is subsidized by various programs and tax breaks.

I don't think it is a symptom of overpopulation, especially world overpopulation. First of all, fertility rates in countries around vary enormously despite most countries being overpopulated. Secondly, supply and demand for skills are a much greater determinant of wages than population itself. Without checking any figures, I assume that someone leafleting houses in New Zealand and Japan would get a roughly similar hourly rate, as there are plenty of people available to do a job that requires no skill to get a bit of extra cash. Similarly, doctors in both countries are likely to have high salaries because of the high demand for a very limited number of pepole with such skills. Japan has about 30 times the population of NZ and also a much higher population density.

There is also a very strong correlation between urbanisation and number of children and Japan is one of the most urbanised countries in the world.
I agree that low wages are a deterrent to having children. I'd argue that the extraordinary and obscene concentration of wealth in the hands of a few in many developed countries could only have been brought about by suppressing wages rather than overpopulation.

I'm not sure what point you are making in your final sentence. I find it difficult to imagine low-income parents thinking 'yeah! let's have more children since the state will pay!' and having more children than they are capable of looking after. But 'the feckless poor' are often demonised in my country, rather than addressing
the societal reasons why they are poor, so they may well also be in yours.
 
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I'd argue that the extraordinary and obscene concentration of wealth in the hands of a few in many developed countries could only have been brought about by suppressing wages rather than overpopulation.
I'm not so sure about that. Just to give context, one of the main reasons I tend to think of low wages as a population problem is a bit of history: it can be argued that the European middle class emerged in the first place because of the Black Death wiping out vast swathes of the population, forcing the leaders in the feudal system to pay the peasants higher wages. Not to say that's definitely the case; I don't know all the facts and figures. But it's interesting to think about. If a massive loss of population because of disease can lead to wages going up and birthing the middle class, then it could very well be that population growth can eventually lead to wages going down and erode the middle class.

I'm not particularly inclined to believe that wages are being deliberately suppressed, or that that's even possible. I would propose instead that all companies always pay the lowest wages they possibly can, and it's ultimately only through market forces that wages go up (in particular, people being unwilling to do job X for less than rate Y). I propose that if a company tried to deliberately pay lower wages than workers demand, all that would do is lead to more workers quitting from that company and working at another company. This is important, too, as losing a worker has significant costs (such as sudden loss of productivity and having to pay to train a new replacement), and too much of this could even lead to a business failing altogether.

I'm not sure what point you are making in your final sentence. I find it difficult to imagine low-income parents thinking 'yeah! let's have more children since the state will pay!' and having more children than they are capable of looking after. But 'the feckless poor' are often demonised in my country, rather than addressing
the societal reasons why they are poor, so they may well also be in yours.
That's not quite what I meant. There are literally programs that will help the poor a lot more if they have children than if they don't. Medicaid is the particular example I was thinking of; a lot of poor people in the U.S. simply can't get healthcare coverage without it, and in a lot of cases you can't realistically get Medicaid coverage unless you have dependent children.
 

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I'm not particularly inclined to believe that wages are being deliberately suppressed, or that that's even possible. I would propose instead that all companies always pay the lowest wages they possibly can, and it's ultimately only through market forces that wages go up (in particular, people being unwilling to do job X for less than rate Y). I propose that if a company tried to deliberately pay lower wages than workers demand, all that would do is lead to more workers quitting from that company and working at another company. This is important, too, as losing a worker has significant costs (such as sudden loss of productivity and having to pay to train a new replacement), and too much of this could even lead to a business failing altogether.
Depends what you mean by deliberate. In the U.S. productivity has gone up significantly over the years. Wages have not increased commensurately.
Also the concentration of wealth has gone way up. It might not be deliberate but it's certainly a systematic issue.
Market forces alone are unlikely to fix it.
 
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Depends what you mean by deliberate. In the U.S. productivity has gone up significantly over the years. Wages have not increased commensurately.
Right, but productivity isn't what makes wages go up or down. Supply and demand is. What I would propose is that perhaps demand for human labor has declined somewhat (due to improved efficiency of labor usage), while supply has increased (i.e. more people looking for work). Increased productivity may even be a symptom of this; if demand is low and supply is high, employers can afford to be more selective and employees have to work harder to stand out; both of these will naturally increase productivity.

Also the concentration of wealth has gone way up. It might not be deliberate but it's certainly a systematic issue.
Market forces alone are unlikely to fix it.
Right, but if overpopulation has something to do with it, I would propose then that reducing the world population would help. The only particular reason I can think of for market forces being unlikely to fix it is simply that modern medicine is so effective that a massive plague or other depopulation event like the Black Death is incredibly unlikely to happen. That being said, reducing worldwide population growth, with the goal of eventually achieving negative population growth, might be helpful to this end, even if not a total fix.
 

mdchachi

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Right, but productivity isn't what makes wages go up or down. Supply and demand is. What I would propose is that perhaps demand for human labor has declined somewhat (due to improved efficiency of labor usage), while supply has increased (i.e. more people looking for work). Increased productivity may even be a symptom of this; if demand is low and supply is high, employers can afford to be more selective and employees have to work harder to stand out; both of these will naturally increase productivity.
With unemployment rates as low as they are, one would expect to see wages rising more than they have been.
Here's an article about this but no definitive answer as to what is going on.

Right, but if overpopulation has something to do with it, I would propose then that reducing the world population would help. The only particular reason I can think of for market forces being unlikely to fix it is simply that modern medicine is so effective that a massive plague or other depopulation event like the Black Death is incredibly unlikely to happen. That being said, reducing worldwide population growth, with the goal of eventually achieving negative population growth, might be helpful to this end, even if not a total fix.
Some people believe populations will peak and begin to decline in our lifetime.
How it all plays out will be interesting indeed.
 

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Working a job and raising kids too when you have a spouse is a fool's bargain. I am not usually with the traditionalists/ conservatives, but they have the right of this. I WANT to be in favor of women working, BUT, they ALWAYS prove to me they are totally unwilling to adjust to sensible modern scenario where that works out well. Namely I mean she has a career she is dedicated to and has a house husband. I have asked my female students about this and all get is "NO efffing way!". So all we have is women flooding the job market, lowering everyone's wages, we all get screwed and they over-work themselves trying to do everything while men remain men and tend to be one track and focused on their jobs and can only relax when they get home. Women want to share the duties but men generally can't adjust to that (cause men are not perfect either). So women got their way and turned the world to crap and now they don't want to have kids. Wonderful. Its no wonder our forefathers kept them in the kitchen. And I will remind you, I WANT to be in favor of women working and making their own decisions, but only as far as REALITY will allow and they don't seem to care much about the reality of the big picture.
 
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