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Continuity and changes in attitudes toward marriage in contemporary Taiwan

Abstract

Research on marriage values bears crucial policy implications in a low-fertility context where obstacles to marriage are indicative of fertility barriers, particularly when non-marital births are rare. Using multiple waves of the Taiwan Social Change Survey between 1985 and 2015, this study explores the attitudinal shifts in marriage during a time of rapid social change. The findings indicate that substantial changes have taken place with regard to the institution of marriage. A cohort replacement effect, as well as intra-cohort changes, are the main drivers for the majority of changes in attitudes toward marriage. Overall, more people in the general public now believe that marriages do not necessarily bring more happiness and satisfaction to one’s life. More of them increasingly believe that conventional norms imposed on married couples, and women in particular, should be relaxed. These include norms about living arrangements, in-law relationships, divorce, and the importance of childbearing. However, preferences for marital births have changed little, and more people in the 2010s endorse the notion of having at least one son to continue the family lineage, than in the 1990s. These seemingly paradoxical patterns of value liberalisation and traditional fertility preferences, along with rising female autonomy, could make the “marriage package” seem less desirable for younger cohorts of economically independent women, leading to delayed (or even foregone) family formation.

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Notes

  1. It is stipulated in Article 1002 of the Civil Code that “the residence of the wife shall be that of the husband and the residence of the taken-in husband shall be that of the wife”.

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Appendix

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See Table 8.

Table 8 Decomposition of various cohort effects in attitudinal changes for the importance of having at least one son to maintain family lineage (weighted data)

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Cheng, Yh.A., Yang, Cl.W. Continuity and changes in attitudes toward marriage in contemporary Taiwan. J Pop Research 38, 139–167 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12546-021-09259-z

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Keywords

  • Marriage attitude
  • Marriage norms
  • Childbearing attitude
  • Family changes
  • Taiwan