This paper argues that the decline in the Japanese total fertility rate was caused mainly by the rise in the unmarried population. Possible explanations are late marriages, high educational expenditures and housing costs, women's higher education and increased participation in the workforce, and a change in cultural values. The fertility rate among married women has remained at the replacement level for the last few decades, and the number of illegitimate births is almost negligible. Although fertility rates in most advanced countries show a conversion below the replacement level, the small differences have to be explained. It is difŪcult to measure the impact of family policies, but the high level of privatization of reproductive costs and the low value assigned to care work can be seen as signs of a child-unfriendly society. If an individual couple makes a voluntary decision to have fewer children, on the other hand, the low fertility rate may not constitute a problem.
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