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Jinko Mondai Kenkyu. 1983 Apr;(166):1-34.

[Ideal, intended, and achieved fertility for Japanese married couples: major findings from the Eighth National Fertility Survey].

[Article in Japanese]



The Institute of Population Problems, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Japan, held its 8th National Fertility Survey (NFS) on June 1, 1982. The sample of 8853 currently married women ages under 50 was selected from 325 census tracts which were, in turn, drawn from about 710,000 tracts from all over Japan by systematic sampling procedures. The Survey was successful as demonstrated by the high response rate of 95%. The following were major findings. 1) The mean number of children ever born was 2.2 for married couples who completed their childbearing by the date of the survey. This figure is the same as that for the past 2 NFSs. Not only has this figure been stable, but the distribution of married couples by the number of children ever born has been. Of the married couples who had completed their fertility, 4% had no children, 11% had 1, 55% had 2 children, 25% had 3, and 5% had 4 or more. There are very small socioeconomic differentials in completed fertility. Those who live in rural areas have only 0.2 more children on the average than those in urban areas. 2) For the last 10 years, Japanese married couples have completed their childbearing within an average of 6 years. Although the 1st birth interval has gradually been shortened, the 2nd and 3rd birth intervals remain stable. 3) Married women who already have 3 children or who are 35 or over have only ily size for young married couples has been stable; 2.2 children on the average. There are only small differentials in intended fertility due to socioeconomic background. 4) The ideal number of children was 2.6 on the average, with those who think no child or 1 child is ideal being fewer than 5%. In contrast with achieved or intended fertility, those who regard 3 children as ideal surpass those who regard 2 children as ideal. 5) Most Japanese married couples feel 2 or 3 years is the ideal birth interval or the ideal age difference between children. The average ideal birth interval is about 2.6 years, which is very close to the average actual birth interval. 6) Only about 1/2 of the respondents answered that they had any sex preference. A weak boy preference is shown only among those who think 3 children as ideal. There is hardly any difference among married couples due to the sex combination of living children in their motivation to have another child. 7) The major reason that Japanese married women abhor the single child and feel that 2 or more children are ideal is that they expect brothers and sisters to help each other when they grow up or because they presume that brothers and sisters influence each other as far as good personality development. There are very few who feel that there is social obligation to have 2 or more children for their old age for or the continuation of the family line. 8) About 36% of the whole sample intended to have fewer than the ideal number of children, mainly because they do not want to have children when they are older. Those under 35 do not actualize their ideal mainly because of the economic costs of childrearing. (author's modified)

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