ESRI Discussion Paper Series No.332
Analysis of Decision Making of Marriage : Empirical Evidence from Survey Data

Hiroki Sato
Professor, Graduate School of Strategic Management, Chuo University
Satoshi Miwa
Associate Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo
Tomohiro Takami
Researcher, The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training
Shizuka Takamura
Economic and Social Research Institute, Cabinet Office
Ayako Ishida
Economic and Social Research Institute, Cabinet Office


Based upon 'The Survey on Decision-Making of Marriage' conducted by the Cabinet Office in 2015, this paper attempts to reveal a decision-making mechanism of transition of one's marital status from unmarried to married.

The Survey covered 25 to 34 year-old males and females nationwide, and made comparison of the current situation or the situation at the decision of one's marriage with that of three years ago, focusing on encounter, dating, daily life, work, sense of values, social relations, and marriage. The study investigates the following three themes; 1) Willingness to marry with whom one is currently dating with - difference among unmarried males and females in his/her twenties-, 2) Decision-making of and willingness of marriage, and 3) Influence of individual's social relations on transition from dating to marriage.

Theme one deals with a hypothesis whether growth of willingness to marry shows a gender bias. The study finds that many 27 to 29 year-old females tend to have a willingness to get married, while many males at the same age group think they would rather get married later. The study also finds that the decision maker is male in most of the cases, and that that is the barrier for marriage matchmaking as their willingness to marry is not matured in their twenties.

Theme two analyses crucial factors of three transitional stages of marriage decision through the Transition Model. The analysis finds that in the first stage, i.e. continuation of dating, there is little effect from socio-economic factors but that length of living together and living closer has a positive effect, while the number of acquaintances of opposite sex and that of married acquaintances worked negative. In the second stage, making one's decision, males in non-regular employment or self-employment tend to wait until their partner makes a decision first. In the third stage, partners' decision-making prior to the examinees' decision, females with higher education tend to have less possibility of making a decision after her partner. Socio-economic status generally works on a decision making of the male side.

Theme three investigates young generation's transition from dating to marriage with a focus on social connectedness, and finds that the Bonding Type works positive on marriage. On the other hand, the Bridging Type has possibilities of facilitating transition to marriage of the couples in a dating stage that males have less income than their partners albeit such income combination pattern of couples in a dating stage is one of the major negative factors for marriage decision.

  • Keywords: marriage decision, willingness to marry, transition from dating to marriage, factor of marriage.
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