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Increased Access to Education, Skilled Jobs Leads to Declining Marriage, Fertility in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, as women achieve higher levels of education and enter skilled jobs, marriage and fertility rates are declining.

From Noviscape:

"Countries demonstrating the trend toward delayed marriage include Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and, to a lesser extent, Indonesia."

"Fertility is also on the decline... especially among the ethnic Chinese and Indians (for example in Singapore and Malaysia), Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and most of Indonesia."

The primary reason for these trends is increased educational and job opportunities, which make marriage and children less appealing, as they could mean sacrificing career, as "cultural norms continue to require that women maintain their role as primary caregivers in the family in spite of engaging in wage work." Howeve, the balancing act between family commitments and work demands "among more affluent working women is made easier by the availability of women from the poorer countries of the region to work as nannies or domestic servants."

Also, women in skilled jobs have little financial incentive to marry, some see it as a threat to their autonomy and others find a lack of suitable partners. Some countries have laws that place limits on the number of children a couple can have, which also contributes to declining birthrates.

From Noviscape:

"The strongest factor for non-marriage is education with the vast majority of non-married women having higher levels of education as opposed to women with lower levels of education. It has been argued that the lower proportions of higher educated women marry in their 30s and 40s compared with lower-educated women although delayed and non-marriage has been evident in both educational cohorts. Among highly-educated women, non-marriage is considered by some as an inevitable outcome, given their increasing difficulty in finding suitable partners."

"Among men, non-marriage is linked to low educational levels, presumably as a result of their low economic status. Among them, seeking foreign brides from more economically disadvantaged countries in the region is not uncommon."

"As women enjoy increasing financial independence, thanks to higher levels of education and employment, the association between marriage and economic security is no longer as strong as in previous generations."

"The lack of government policies to help women balance work demands and family commitments have reduced the appeal of marriage."

"Factors responsible for the decision to have smaller families include women prioritizing careers over family and the perceived rising costs involved in raising children. The perceived value of children has also changed. Among career women, children have increasingly become viewed as a potential disruption to career and a factor for the loss of independence. Anti-natalist policies aimed at limiting population growth in some countries have also been identified as a factor for declining fertility rates."

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