Japan’s demographic challenges are well-known: It’s home to the world’s oldest population and has a shrinking birthrate and an astonishing number of single people. But, as The Independent reports, it seems that, despite government efforts to incentivize marriage and child-rearing, things aren’t quite trending in the right direction.
According to the Japan Times, a new survey of Japanese people ages 18 to 34 found that 70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women are not in a relationship. It gets worse: Around 42 percent of men and 44.2 percent of women admitted that they were virgins.
As The Indepdent explains, the Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it wants to raise the nation’s fertility rate from 1.4 to 1.8 by 2025. It’s offering better child-care services and tax incentives for married couples, though such programs have yet to bear statistical fruit.
Most people surveyed said they want to get married at some point. It’s just not clear when.
“They want to tie the knot eventually. But they tend to put it off as they have gaps between their ideals and the reality,” Futoshi Ishii, head researcher for the study, told Japan Times. “That’s why people marry later or stay single for life, contributing to the nation’s low birthrate.”
This is not unique to Japan — in various parts of the developed world, economic uncertainty is reshaping the way millennials and other young people conceive of their sex lives and marital choices. But it’s particularly pronounced in the Asian nation, where experts and government officials have spent the better part of a decade fretting over the country’s population decline and, as WorldViews once put it, “sexual apathy.”