A Cultural Perspective

Japan had a large population of 127.9 million in 2005. The country is characterized by low birth rates and an ageing population. As an ageing population, Japan saw a growing health awareness, which had a substantial impact on the country’s economy, culture and on consumer market trends in particular. The case in the United States and other OECD countries is similar as baby boomers retire. These are causing cultural norms to change and the society to adjust to demographic changes (Martinez 2007).

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Single person households are the most common in Japan at 29% of total households in 2005. Both men and women live alone more than they did before, people marry later, and many live alone all their lives, by choice or through circumstance. Divorce rates increased and many couples delay, or do not have, children as well as people living longer. Women also have growing independence in Japanese society and their ability to find their own jobs is contributing to the trend of single person households (Martinez 2007).

Among the reasons for the low marriage rate, is the growing independence of women, who are no longer content with being housewives. Younger women are employed and earning and do not want to stay at home during marriage. The Japanese tradition also usually obliges women to stay at home especially to attend to the needs of the households and children (Buckley 2002).

As a patriarchal society, males dominate heads of the households in Japan, at around 80% in 2005. This share saw only s slight decrease from 82% in 1990 due in part to the culturally rooted dominance of male in the society. It has been a long tradition in Japan that men provide for the welfare of the family, while the wife takes care of the household and the children. However, due to the active role women are now taking in the workforce and rising divorce rates, there are an increasing number of female household heads (Buckley 2002).

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