Family Change in Asia and the United States


Throughout most of the industrial and post-industrial world, changes in marriage, fertility, and child rearing over the past half century have had profound effects on public policy and family life, ranging from the fiscal viability of government-run old-age pension schemes to the well-being of children. These family behavioral changes have occurred in a context of major structural changes in economies, education systems, and other institutions.

Researchers in this collaborative project examine attitudes and behavior in areas of education, marriage and cohabitation, divorce, childbearing, childcare, employment, and relationships with parents and children, using national survey data from Japan, South Korea, other Asian countries, and the United States.

A major component examines patterns of rapid diffusion of innovation among young adults in Japan, based on National Surveys on Family and Economic Conditions. This study explores the diffusion of selected innovative family behaviors that are rare in Japan today, including childbearing outside of marriage, cohabitation without marriage, remaining unmarried throughout the childbearing years, and use of childcare centers for very young children. A high level of acceptance of non-traditional behaviors can reinforce the diffusion of such behaviors. The project examines how attitudes toward non-traditional behaviors may be changing by examining differences in attitudes among age cohorts and other groups. The attitudes examined relate to marriage, parenthood, and gender roles.

The project also examines the patterns of change in family behavior and the relationship to changes in economic conditions, education systems, and other institutions in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States. Behaviors including marriage, childbearing, divorce, cohabitation, gender division of labor, and intergenerational relationships are examined through analyses of recent national survey data.

The project is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In addition to East-West Center staff members, project researchers include:

  • Noriko O. Tsuya, Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Economics, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Larry L. Bumpass, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Samsik Lee, Ph.D., Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, Seoul, Korea

Selected Publications

Rindfuss, Ronald R., Minja K. Choe, Noriko O. Tsuya, Larry L. Bumpass, and Emi Tamaki (2015). Do low survey response rates bias results? Evidence from Japan. Demographic Research 32(26): 797−828.

Choe, Minja Kim, and Hyung-Seog Kim (2014). Lowest-low fertility in the Republic of Korea: Variations by locality, 2000-2010. Asia-Pacific Population Journal 29(2): 5-24.

Choe, Minja Kim, Larry L. Bumpass, Noriko O. Tsuya, and Ronald R. Rindfuss (2014). Non-traditional family-related attitude trends in Japan: Macro and micro determinants. Population and Development Review 40(2): 241-271.  

Tsuya, Noriko O., Larry L. Bumpass, Minja Kim Choe, and Ronald R. Rindfuss (2012). Employment and housework tasks of Japanese couples, 1994-2009. Demographic Research 27: 705-718.

Choe, Minja Kim, and Lei Li (2011). Estimating the effects of education on later marriage and less marriage in South Korea: An application of a mixture survival model with proportional piecewise constant hazard. Journal of Applied Statistical Science 18(4): 103–15.

Rindfuss, Ronald D., Minja Kim Choe, Maria Midea M. Kabamalan, Noriko O. Tsuya, and Larry L. Bumpass (2010). Order amidst change: Work and family trajectories in Japan. Advances in Life Course Research 15:76–88.

Chen, Jiajian, Robert D. Retherford, Minja Kim Choe, and Li Xiru (2010). Effects of population policy and economic reform on the trend in fertility in Guangdong Province, China, 1975–2005. Population Studies 64(1): 43–60.

Bumpass, Larry, Ronald R. Rindfuss, Minja Kim Choe, and Noriko O. Tsuya (2009). The institutional context of low fertility. Asian Population Studies 5(3): 215–35.

Choe, Minja Kim, and Robert D. Retherford (2009). The contribution of education to South Korea’s fertility decline to "lowest-low level". Asian Population Studies 5(3): 267–88.

Chen, Jiajian, Robert D. Retherford, Minja Kim Choe, Li Xiru, and Hu Ying (2009). Province-level variation in the achievement of below-replacement fertility in China. Asian Population Studies 5(3): 309–28.

Entwisle, Barbara, Katherine Faust, Ronald R. Rindfuss, and Toshiko Kaneda (2007). Networks and contexts: Variation in the structure of social ties. American Journal of Sociology. 112(5): 1495-1533.

Choe, Minja Kim (2006). Modernization, gender roles and marriage behavior in South Korea. In Yun-Shik Chang and Steven Hugh Lee, eds. Transformations in Twentieth Century Korea. London: Routledge, pp. 291-309.

Choe, Minja Kim, and Kyung-Ae Park (2006). Fertility decline in South Korea: Forty years of policy-behavior dialogue. Korea Journal of Population Studies 29(2): 1-26.

Tsuya, Noriko O., Larry L. Bumpass, Minja Kim Choe, and Ronald R. Rindfuss (2005). Is the gender division of work changing in Japan? Asian Population Studies 1(1): 47-67.

Rindfuss, Ronald R., Minja Kim Choe, Larry L. Bumpass, and Noriko O. Tsuya (2004). Social networks and family change in Japan. American Sociological Review 69:838-61.

Tsuya, Noriko O., and Larry L. Bumpass, eds. (2004). Marriage, work, and family life in comparative perspective: Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Choe, Minja Kim, and Seung Kwon Kim (2003). Factors associated with low fertility in South Korea and policy implications (in Korean). In Seung Kwon Kim, ed. Study on the development of population policies and programs in responses to low fertility. Seoul: Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, pp. 147–67.

Rindfuss, Ronald R., Karen Benjamin Guzzo, and S. Philip Morgan (2003). The changing institutional context of low fertility. Population Research and Policy Review 22(5-6): 411-38.

Choe, Minja Kim, Sidney B. Westley, and Robert D. Retherford (2002). Tradition and change in marriage and family life. In East-West Center. The future of population in Asia. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Brewster, Karin L., and Ronald R. Rindfuss (2000). Fertility and women's employment in industrialized nations. Annual Review of Sociology 26: 271-96.

See all current East-West Center Research Projects.