Attitudinal Correlates of Cohabitation in Japan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Room: 511
Soomin KIM , Stanford University
What are the attitudinal correlates of cohabitation in Japan? Cohabitation has been growing more prevalent among young cohorts in Japan, and yet little is known about its relationship with liberal attitudes on family and gender. Exploring this issue is important for testing the Second Demographic Transition theory that predicts ideational secularization as driving force for non-traditional unions like cohabitation. In this article I examine attitudes on family and gender norms that are correlated with current or past cohabitation experience. For this analysis I use the 2009 National Survey on Family and Economic Conditions (NSFEC), a national, two-stage stratified probability sample of 3,112 Japanese men and women ages 20-49. Individuals with more liberal attitudes toward pre-marital sex and out-of-wedlock birth were more likely to have cohabited relative to those with conservative attitudes. Also, those who disagreed with forgoing divorce for the sake of children were also more likely to have cohabited. On the other hand, differences in attitudes on other gender issues did not significantly change the likelihoods of cohabitation. The results show that liberalism in only narrow range of family issues are associated with cohabitation in Japan, showing only partial support for the Second Demographic Transition. Also, the results suggest that cohabiters in Japan would be expected to have higher rates of divorce once they enter marriage compared to non-cohabiters.