Some statistics about marriage, employment and family life in Japan

Sonni Efron, staff writer of Los Angeles Times and well known for her well-rounded expertise on Japan, has written another well-researched article about Japan's increasing number of single women who won't marry soon. This article was published in the Los Angeles Times on June 26, just a little before Orenstein's New York Times article on a very similar theme.

Efron also mentioned the term parasite singles. However, her article covers both men and women while Orenstein's focus was exclusively on women. It is interesting to read the original text of both articles. You can find and read Frond's article ("Me, Find a Husband? Later, maybe. Japan's successful, career-minded women are savoring single life and waiting longer than ever for Mr. Right". By Sonni Efron, Los Angeles Times. June 26, 2001) in the archive section of the Los Angeles Times online site. (

Efron used some of the same data that Orenstein used. However her article includes other statistics about the current social situations in Japan that are informative. Zipangu quotes some of them here.

  • Japan now has a far higher percentage of single women between the ages of 20 to 40 than the United States--higher than almost anywhere in the world except Scandinavia.

  • 80% to 90% of single Japanese women live with their parents, as do about half of the men in their 20s. Most pay little or no rent and do no housework.

  • One sociologist estimates that Japan has 10 million "parasite singles"--roughly equal to the entire population of Greece.

  • 56% of single women do want to marry--eventually. But marriage is widely seen as a sayonara to personal freedom. A recent Mainichi newspaper survey of single women ages 20 to 40 found fewer than a third wanted to marry "soon."

  • 10% of single women ages 35 to 39 told the survey they have resolved never to marry. So did a quarter of single women in their 40s. This marks a revolution in a society where in 1950, only 1.4% of women never married.

  • Only 1% of Japanese children are born "out of wedlock," a phrase still used here. In the U.S., 32.8% of births are now registered as "non-marital."

  • But this isn't a war between the sexes of the sort that American feminists fought in the 1970s and '80s. Most young Japanese women are neither militant nor particularly ideological. "Feminist" is a pejorative word here.

  • The statistic most often quoted by women is the amount of time the average Japanese man spends on housework and child care per day: 23 minutes. Women spend 4 1/2 hours.

  • In a 1998 government survey, 34% of Japanese men said they had never changed a diaper.

  • During the "bubble" economy of the 1980s, women got choosier but remained more pragmatic than romantic in picking a mate. They still defined a good catch as a man with the "three highs": higher education, high income and height. Now young women who can support themselves have added even tougher criteria for Mr. Right. Chikako Ogura of Aichi Shukutoku University says the new standard is the "three Cs": financially comfortable, emotionally communicative and cooperative in housework and childcare.

  • The traditional premium placed on female virginity at marriage has quickly eroded. The Mainichi survey found that two-thirds of unmarried women ages 25 to 29 have had sex.

Q & A: on marriage, divorce, employment and child birth in Japan.

  • Q1: What is the average age of first marriage for women in Japan in 1950 and in 2000?

    1950: 23.0
    2000: 27.0

  • Q2: What is the Average age of first childbirth in Japan in 1950 and in 1999?

    1950: 24.4
    1999: 27.9

  • Q3: What is the Fertility rate (babies per woman) in Japan in 1950 and in 2000?

    1950: 3.65
    2000: 1.35
    (Tokyo, 1998: 1.06)

  • Q4: What percentage of Women are married or cohabiting by age 29 in Japan and in Sweden?

    Japan: 54% to 55%
    Sweden: 69%

  • Q5: What is the Divorce rate, per thousand in Japan and the U.S.?

    Japan, 1975: 1.07, 2000: 2.00
    U.S., 1998: 4.2

  • Q6: What is the Percentage of Japanese men and women who believe that women should stay at home and look after their families in 1987 and 1995?

    Men: 52%
    Women: 37%
    Men: 33%
    Women: 22%

  • Q7: What is the estimated percentage of single Japanese women in their 20s and 30s who live with their parents?

    In their 20s: 90%
    In their early 30s: 80%

  • Q7: What is the estimated percentage of single Japanese women in their 20s and 30s who live with their parents?

    In their 20s: 90%
    In their early 30s: 80%

  • Q9: What is the Average per hour earnings of a full-time male employee in Japan?

    $16.99 per hour

  • Q10: What is the average per hour earnings of a full-time female employee in Japan?

    $10.98 per hour

  • Q11: What is the average wage of a part-time Japanese worker?

    $7.16 per hour

  • Q11: What is the percentage of Japanese women hired after age 30 who are hired as part-time workers?

    70% to 80%