The Sharp Decline of Ctfr and Its Cause in Japan

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Arcade Courtyard (Main Building)
Yukiko SENDA, Tohoku-gakuin University, Japan
Cohort total fertility rate (CTFR) in Japan fell down rapidly from 1.98 to 1.60 between the birth cohorts of 1955-1965. This paper shows how sharply CTFR fell down and has never recovered in the following cohorts, by focusing on the changes in social life-cycle of women in the cohort of the 1960s mainly.

First, estimation of pregnancy attempt (any intentional action that might lead to pregnancy) and the gap between the intentions (pregnancy attempt) and results (births) by age classifications revealed that the 1960s cohort largely decreased childbearing in its 20s.

This happened because the changes of social conditions such as the enactment Equal Employment Opportunity Law and the slogan of “era of the 80-year life” by the Government in the mid-1980s affected enormously the women of the 1960s, who were in their 20s and supposed to be suitable age to choose the life events regarding work and family. Their social life-cycle lagged complicatedly. The women of the 1960s were the first to show the decline in marriage and childbearing in their 20s for prioritizing the occupational career (new social life-cycle). However, they gave up childbearing in their 30s (old social life-cycle).

As for the following cohorts, the childbearing moved to their 30s (new social life-cycle). Pregnancy attempts in the 30s started increasing. Then, biological limit began to restrict fertility, which was not intended by the party.

We are accustomed to adopt the rational theory to explain why a woman/couple has fewer children. Meanwhile, this paper pays attention to the “unintended” fertility determinants such as spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, and natural fertility. The rates of those incidences vary according to age. The more aged, the less childbirth in spite of an intention. In fact, 30% of pregnancy attempts did not result in births in 2012, by 10 points higher than 1995.