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Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Will Japan's Marriage and Fertility Rates Rise?  - 6 30 2020 10 49 26 AM

In Japan, singles are showing a surge of interest in matchmaking agencies during the pandemic. Something similar happened after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami: A year later, the number of weddings shot up. (The Economist)

NH: Marriage rates in Japan have been dropping for years. In 1970, there were over 1 million marriages, while in 2019, there were just over 500,000. See "Japanese Women Are Not Rushing to the Altar."

But matchmaking services have seen a spike in activity since the pandemic. One agency reported a 30% increase in inquiries when compared to April of last year.

Many agencies are rushing to meet demand by offering car dates, where clients can meet in socially distant parking lots. Supposedly, being cooped up in one's home makes the heart long for a companion.

But does this trend bode well for Japan's ailing marriage rate? Not necessarily. A similar rush to the alter happened after the 2011 tsunami. In 2012, the number of marriages in Japan increased by over 7,000. But this gain didn't last: The number of marriages dropped by over 8,000 the following year.

And while Japanese dating services are seeing a rise, what will happen to Japan's fertility rate? That's a tough question. A few months ago, we wrote a piece on the relationship between fertility and crises. See "Covid-19’s Impact on Fertility Rates.”

We found that a disaster that keeps people home but causes relatively little damage increases the fertility rate. But disasters with severe damage and deaths make fertility go negative.

As a global disaster, COVID has caused massive numbers of deaths and wreaked havoc on the world economy. But Japan has been relatively spared by COVID’s destruction with just north of 900 deaths.

Fertility rates will be determined by the Japanese either focusing on their nation’s good fortune or the dire circumstances of the world.

In nine months, we will know which way they were thinking.

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Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.