- 社会学評論 (ISSN:00215414)
- vol.31, no.4, pp.91-97, 1981-03-31
In the recent issue of this Journal, Mr.Yoshiki Kikuchi wrote about the rapid fertility decline since 1973 in Japan. He implied in it that the recent low fertility in Japan, measured by total fertility rates, reflected the decrease in birth intention of the average married couple toward less than two children. Based on the assumption that fertility behavior of Japanese women changed fundamentally in 1970's, he attempted population projections in which he assumed women would have only 1. 5 children on average in the future Japan.<BR>In my judgement, such argument is totally unwarranted. There has been no significant change in the legal status and the extent of actual prevalence of birth control measures in around early 1970's. In this respect Japanese situation is completely different from the Western countries where the diffusion of modern contraceptive methods and the liberalization of induced abortion presumably contributed to the recent fertility decline there.<BR>No evidence has shown that Japanese married couples have changed their fertility dramatically toward less than two children. Mean number of children ever born for 1955-1965 marriage cohorts were almost invariably about 2.2 and the total intended number of children was also 2.2 on average for more recent marriage cohorts.<BR>Although such social and economic changes as industrialization, urbanization, the rising aspirations for living, and the rise of educational level, may have been conducive to the long-run low fertility in Japan, they cannot explain the recent abrupt decline in period fertility rates. Also, there has been no significant change in married women's status either within or out of home.<BR>The major reason for the recent decline in period fertility rates is the simultaneous rise in the mean age at marriage for both sexes since 1973, which is, in turn, not only due to the abrupt shrinkage of the size of younger age cohorts in the marriage market after the "baby boom" cohort, but also due to the recent rise in the proportion of women entering colleges. Fragmentary data seem to indicate that marital fertility itself has declined recently, but this should be interpreted not as the decline in completed fertility but as the temporal decline due to the spacing of childbearing.