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Japan: Policy Awareness increase Marital Intentions

Study: Family Policy Awareness and Marital Intentions: A National Survey Experimental Study

Japan faces serious demographic challenges, with delayed marriages contributing to low fertility rates, aging population, and labor shortages. Understanding how family policies influence marital intentions is pivotal for addressing these issues.

The Big Picture

Traditional research has overlooked the role of policy awareness in shaping marriage decisions. A new study focuses on this gap, revealing significant insights into how family policy awareness impacts marital intentions among young, unmarried Japanese individuals.

Background Statistics

  • Marriage Age Increase: From 1970 to 2017, the average age at first marriage in Japan climbed from 27 to 31 for men and from 24 to 29 for women.
  • Low Fertility Rate: Japan’s total fertility rate was 1.57 in 1989.


  • Experiment Design: A national survey divided respondents into treatment and control groups. The treatment group was informed about 17 Japanese family policy benefits.
  • Initial Awareness: Before the experiment, most respondents were unaware of these benefits.
  • Post-Exposure Effect: Exposure to policy information significantly increased marital intentions, with notable differences across educational and gender lines.

Key Findings

  • Overall Increase in Marital Intentions: 28.56% of the treatment group reported very high intentions to marry post-exposure, compared to 23.82% in the control group.
  • Education and Gender Impact: The increase in marital intentions was particularly pronounced among high-educated women and both high- and low-educated men.


  • Gender Norms and Policy Impact: Traditional gender roles in Japan affect the effectiveness of family policies. High-educated women, facing high opportunity costs, are more responsive to policy information. Low-educated men, constrained by financial pressures, also show increased marital intentions upon gaining policy awareness.
  • Policy Awareness Gap: A significant portion of young, unmarried individuals were initially unaware of family policy benefits, suggesting a gap in policy dissemination.

Policy Implications:

  • Enhancing Policy Awareness: Raising awareness about family policies could be as crucial as the policies themselves.
  • Targeted Approach: Policymakers need to consider specific demographic needs and traditional norms when designing and implementing family policies.


This comprehensive study shifts the focus from the mere availability of family policies to the importance of awareness among the target population. It suggests that a more informed population might be more inclined to marry, potentially influencing Japan’s demographic trends.

Looking Forward

Future research should explore the differentiated impacts of various family policies on subpopulations and examine how increased awareness translates into actual behavioral changes. This approach could offer more nuanced insights into Japan’s demographic challenges and potential policy solutions.