Asian women put off marriage

Asian women put off marriage

Report finds that Asian women are marrying late, if at all. Guess which cities lead the pack?
Don't let this picture fool you. In Asia, women are tying the knot later, or, increasingly, not at all.

Women in Asia are fighting shy of marriage, according to The Economist’s latest cover story titled "Asia’s lonely hearts."

It’s not exactly news -- the rise and backlash of single ladies have both been covered extensively by CNNGo, and the term "leftover women" has been a buzzword in Hong Kong and Shanghai for several years.

But The Economist report sheds new light on just how drastically numbers are shifting.

The proportion of unmarried 30-somethings in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong has swollen 20 percent and more in just 30 years.

The average marriage age in Asia’s richest countries (Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong) has now risen to around 29 for women, and 32 for men. In comparison, women in the U.S. get hitched at around 26 years old, and men at 28.

In Taiwan, an astonishing 37 percent of all women aged 30 to 34 were single in 2010. Around 20 percent of Taiwanese femaless aged 35 to 39 are single.

In Tokyo, almost 35 percent of women in their early 30s remain unmarried, with Bangkok (roughly 32 percent) and Hong Kong (27 percent) trailing close behind.

Many of those who are single as they enter their 40s will not marry or have children at all, The Economist says.

With the drop in the number of wedded women comes a drop in fertility rate. The average number of children an Asian woman has during her lifetime has fallen from 5.3 to less than 1.6 in half a century.

The trend is not significant in China and India yet, but it is likely to be. By 2050, researchers predict that there will be 60 million more men of marriageable age than women in both countries.

Despite the gloom and doom, there’s a ray of hope for Asian marriages -- as long as governments relax unsympathetic divorce laws, which discourages women from tying the knot, experts say.

The situation might also be reversed once Asian societies shed their expectation of married women as primary care-givers, which turns career women off the institution of marriage, The Economist adds.

More via The Economist (subscription required).