Family survey: Family and spousal values

Jul. 12, 2018
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Thirty years of husbands becoming more faithful, wives more hard-nosed

Percentage of husbands who replied “Affairs by a husband are completely unacceptable” climbs from 61.4% in 1988 to 84.3% in 2018
Percentage of wives who replied “A married couple should never divorce no matter what the circumstances” plunges from 59.7% in 1988 to 24.4% in 2018

Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living has conducted its Family Survey of couples in households where the husband is a salaried employee every ten years since 1988 (1988, 1998, 2008, 2018). Aside from time-series analysis of 30 years of data, the survey enables a look at gaps between responses by spouses by asking husbands and wives the same questions.

Following earlier reports released on June 11 on Spousal Power Relationships and July 2 on Married Couples’ Division of Housework and Childcare, this report covers Family and Spousal Values. The report provides key survey findings and shines a spotlight on changes in values regarding marriage, families, and ideal couple image.

The survey is part of Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living’s Japanese Families: 30 Years of Change (1988–2018) study. These and other research findings will be presented at events and in reports as Summer Seminar 2018 Japanese Families: 30 Years of Change (1988–2018).

Key findings from Japanese Families: 30 Years of Change (1988–2018)

Moral views of married couples
Husbands the most faithful to / considerate of their wives in the last 30 years?

  • A record-high percentage of husbands agreed with the statement: “Affairs by a husband are completely unacceptable” (61.4% in 1988 versus 84.3% in 2018). For the first time, more husbands agreed with the statement than wives (73.2% in 1988 versus 78.3% in 2018).
  • A record-high percentage of husbands said “I wear my wedding ring at all times” (15.8% in 1988 versus 40.3% in 2018), and a record-low percentage of husbands answered “I have spent the night away from home without permission” (29.3% in 1998 versus 14.8% in 2018).

Views on marriage and having children
Tolerance of divorce climbs and the perception that “adulthood = marriage / having children” hits a record low

  • Record-high percentages of husbands and wives agreed with the statement: “A married couple should never divorce no matter what the circumstances.” The percentage of wives agreeing fell precipitously (wives: 59.7% in 1988 versus 24.4% in 2018).
  • The perception that “people become adults once they marry” hit a record low among both husbands and wives (husbands: 47.7% in 1988 versus 27.8% in 2018).
  • The perception that “people become adults once they have children” also hit record lows among both husbands and wives (husbands: 53.3% in 1988 versus 30.2% in 2018).

Views on family
Rising attention to family ties, but less preference for ancestral gravesites?

  • Record-high percentages of husbands and wives agreed with the statement: “One should consciously do things to strengthen family ties” (husbands: 37.3% in 1988 versus 57.8% in 2018).
  • Husbands (41.4%) and wives (28.6%) agreeing with “Families should be laid to rest in their ancestral gravesite” fell to record lows.

Views on men and women
Consciousness about gender equality is advancing, but actual equality proves difficult

  • Record-high percentages of husbands and wives agreed with “Women should work outside the home even after having children,” passing 50 percent for the first time (husbands: 31.6% in 1988 versus 52.7% in 2018).
  • Although an increasing percentage of husbands (73.8%) and wives (82.1%) agreed with “It is acceptable to have a married couple where the woman works and the man runs the home,” those agreeing with “Such an arrangement would be fine in our case” remained at just 31.4% for husbands and 21.3% for wives.

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