Social Networks and Family Change in Japan

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

In numerous Western countries, many changes have occurred in marriage, cohabitation, non-marital fertility and the use of child care, but the traditional Japanese family system strongly discourages all four. We argue that Japan is ripe for change in some or all of these behaviors. Using a nationally representative 2000 survey, we show that substantial numbers of Japanese know people who have cohabited, used child care, had a non-marital birth, or did not marry, and that such knowledge is patterned by both relationship domain and standard demographic categories. Further, those who know someone who has engaged in these non-traditional behaviors are also more likely to have a favorable opinion towards them.

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Presented in Session 38: Expectations and Social Relationships