Low Fertility in Japan: Intentions and Behavior, 2000-2009

Noriko Tsuya, Keio University
Minja K. Choe, East-West Center
Ronald R. Rindfuss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East-West Center
Larry Bumpass, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Using longitudinal data drawn from a 2000 national survey and its follow-up in 2009, this study examines the relationship between fertility intentions of persons aged 20-39 and their subsequent fertility and, for never-married, their subsequent marriage. Japan’s fertility has been very low—a TFR of 1.3–1.4—in the 2000s; views about marriage and children are changing; and a prolonged economic downturn have altered its labor market. Given these changes and their possible interdependence, it is important to test how fertility intentions are related to family-building behavior. We find that while intentions are positively associated with fertility, the proportion actually having children is about 50 percent even among women age 20–29 who definitely wanted them. The association between fertility intentions of spouses and their subsequent fertility becomes stronger with education, and spouses with higher education tend to have a child only when they want one. We also examine the effects of prefecture-level economic conditions on fertility intentions.

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Presented in Session 41: Low Fertility