Box , Ann Arbor, MI Trends toward later and less marriage and childbearing in East Asia have been even more pronounced than in the West. At the same time, many other features of East Asian families have changed very little. We review recent research on trends in a wide range of family behaviors in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. We also draw upon a range of theoretical frameworks to argue that trends in marriage and fertility reflect tension between rapid social and economic change and limited change in family expectations and obligations.
For Westerners, marriage choices tend to be based on individual notions of love or romance, or at least that is how we see it. But in much of China, marriage is, first and foremost, about family and community. In most of Asia, marriage is widespread and illegitimacy almost unknown. Divorce, though rising in some countries, remains comparatively rare. In contrast, half of marriages in some Western countries end in divorce, and half of all children are born outside wedlock.
The extent to which these customs will be observed will vary between areas within Greater China and between Chinese communities throughout the world. Some traditions may no longer be observed apart from in small pockets of very traditionalist Chinese. Marriage customs and preparation In a culture where the perpetuation of family ancestral lineage and the family as a social institution are central, marriage is an important institution and has many intricate customs associated with it. Arranged marriages, where the marriage match is arranged by the parents or relatives of the bride and groom were once common in Chinese society but are now rare and viewed as old-fashioned.