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As Economy Slips, Women Choose Marriage

March 19, 2009 03:44 PM
by Rachel Balik
Fear of an increasingly unstable economy is encouraging more people to get married.

Unable to Find Security at Work, Women Look for Husbands

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During the past two decades, working women in Japan have sought to advance their careers and prioritize personal success over the traditional domestic life. But as major corporations institute pay cuts and layoffs, self-reliance has become less viable for Japanese women. Now, a rising tide of “marriage-hunters” are setting professional goals aside and devoting themselves to finding a man and getting married. A shrine believed to provide luck for marriage-hunters has received 20 percent more visitors this past year and many women are ironically spending a great deal of money on charms, prayers and dating services. As one woman told Bloomberg, “it’s a reasonable investment.” The energy women are devoting to marriage marks a dramatic shift in a country that only a few short months ago was instituting a policy to boost the birthrate.
Meanwhile in the United States, the online dating business is thriving.  The unemployed have considerably more time to spend looking for love. And while Japanese women are committing to the extra “investment,” American men and women are finding that searching for dates online is cheaper than meeting a series of prospective dates in real life. Experts suggest that these singles aren’t primarily looking to live on someone else’s dime, however; rather, during these difficult times, American singles are seeking emotional, not financial, comfort.

England has also seen a surge in the marriage rate. Register offices and churches are seeing a significant uptick in the number of people scheduling weddings for the upcoming year. A spokesperson for a Westminster register office told U.K. paper The Daily Telegraph that she attributed the rising rates to the credit crunch. Professor Cary Cooper, a social scientist at Lancaster University, expresses an opinion similar to those of the American experts. He told The Daily Telegraph that during economic boom times, people are “me-oriented.” But when they are stripped of hope for wealth and immediate personal achievement, people long for the security of a stable relationship.

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Background: Marriage and babies unpopular in Japan

In November 2008, Japanese companies had to coax employees to make more babies, in effort to combat a dropping birthrate. At that time, Japanese women seemed explicitly less interested in looking after families and significantly more career-oriented. They expressed frustration at the prospect of tending to both a husband and children, preferring to focus on themselves. Statistics showed women opting out of marriage in increasingly high numbers, saying that men needed to be taken care of, and they would rather take care of themselves.

Related Topic: Recession forces couples to stay together

Even if a relationship doesn’t feel emotionally stable, the recession means that some couples simply can’t afford the costs of divorce. According to a New York Daily News article that people are deciding to stay together because it’s too expensive to hire a lawyer or maintain separate residences. Estranged couples are seeking cheaper alternatives, such as living in separate bedrooms, seeing a counselor or simply making a greater attempt to make the marriage work than they might in a boom economy.
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