“Marriage-Hunting” Among Japanese Youth and Its Impact on the Transition to First Marriage

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Olga KORMUSH, Ochanomizu Women's University, Japan
Marriage used to be one of the most important life events representing the transition to adulthood in Japan. Though most Japanese still want to get married one day, young people face difficulties finding marriage partners nowadays. One reason of this is a remaining traditional belief that a man should be the breadwinner, so Japanese women search a partner with a certain income level. Another reason is a lack of opportunities to meet a potential partner.

To solve a partner meeting problem participating in “marriage-hunting” (partner searching activities) became popular within Japanese youth over the past few years. This research aims to examine an effect of “marriage-hunting” on the chances of getting married. The main research questions were as follows: 1) do partner searching activities and which of them effect one’s marriage probability; 2) are there differences in these effects between men and women.

We used the Japanese Life Course Panel Survey held every year since 2007 that consists of follow-ups of Japanese aged 20 to 40 in 2007. Using discrete time logit model with respect to age, education, type of employment and income, we examined which “marriage-hunting” activities had an effect on one’s probability of getting married during the next year after the survey.

The results were as follows. Among women, participating in goukon (organized group dates) reduces chances of getting married, despite the fact that goukon is the most popular partner searching activity. More formal activities like asking parents and siblings for introduction, visiting matchmaking parties or using matchmaking agencies positively affected both men’s and women’s probability of getting married. However, this was true only for men with an annual income of more than 3.5 million yen (approx. $31000~). These suggest that “marriage-hunting” can partly solve partner meeting problem, but economic reasons remain a barrier to marriage in Japan.