Asia seems to be dropping the ball when it comes to marriage and babies. In Beijing, a sleazy professor with a school-age mistress causes outrage. Abroad, Chinese-made fake handbags cause controversy … but not in the way that you’d think.
The Economist recently took a look at demographic trends in Asia regarding marriage and children, and they’ve turned up some interesting numbers. While it’s a global trend that the average marriage age has increased and fertility rates have decreased, particularly in developed countries, Asians are outdoing Westerners on all accounts. In simple terms, East Asian women are not marrying on average until 30, and an increasing number who are unmarried in their 30s can be expected to never marry. In comparison, the average age of marriage in the US for women is 26. Moreover, in many Western countries, cohabitation is taking the place of marriage, including its role of producing offspring, whereas in Asia cohabitation – let alone starting families outside of marriage – is nearly non-existent.
The article is a trove of fascinating statistics about divorce, literacy, education, income, marriage satisfaction and fertility rates. For example, in the late 1960s, the average East Asian woman could expect to have 5.3 children during her lifetime; nowadays, the fertility rate is 1.6 children per woman. If women are no longer marrying as early (or at all) and are culturally frowned upon for having children outside of wedlock, this doesn’t bode well for the ability of a society to replace its population. This trend (along with the consequences of the one-child policy) will leave China with its last remaining female about 1,500 years from now.
To read more, head over to thebeijinger.com.