You are on page 1of 32

Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 1

Major Trends Affecting Families


in East and Southeast Asia
Final Report

by:
Stella R. Quah, PhD
Associate Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore
AS1 #03-10, 11 Arts Link
SINGAPORE 117570
Fax: (65)-6467-1908

Submitted to:
Mr Amr Ghaleb,
Chief, Programme on the Family
Division for Social Policy and Development
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Room DC2-1306, Two United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017
Fax: (212) 963-3062

Date: 31 March 2003


Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 2

Major Trends Affecting Families


in East and Southeast Asia
Final Report

Stella R. Quah

Introduction

This report discusses five areas of development affecting families at the dawn of the
new millennium. These areas are: (1) changes in family structure; (2) demographic
transformation; (3) migration; (4) the HIV/AIDS pandemic; and (5) the impact of
globalization on families. The analysis of major trends in these five areas will be
made from the perspective of family policy options to assist families in need and to
facilitate family life. A note on methodology precedes the discussion of these five
areas.

Methodology

There are five main global trends identified by United Nations experts in the
comparative analysis of family formation and family structure. More specifically, UN
experts assume that families are (1) facing changes in structure leading towards
"smaller size households, delayed marriage and childbearing, increases in divorce
rates and single parenthood"; (2) undergoing demographic transformation
characterized by "aging"; (3) affected by a rise in migration; (4) suffering the effects
of the HIV/AIDS pandemic; and (5) trying to cope with the effects of globalization.

As these are generalizations from global figures, it was imperative to verify the
presence of those trends in East and Southeast Asian countries before proceeding to
the analysis of causes. Thus, this paper provides data on the five areas of
development and identifies the nature of these trends in East and Southeast Asia.

The search for empirical verification covered two major sources: (a) national
population census data and official statistics published by national governments over
the past three decades; and (b) country population figures collected or compiled by
international organizations such as the Common Database of the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs' Statistical Division, United Nations; the UN Yearbook of
Statistics, and world statistics published by the World Health Organization, UNESCO,
the International Labour Organization and the World Bank, among others. The
complete list of sources is provided in the bibliography. These sources provide
printed information as well as electronic information through their websites. Both
types of information were utilized in this study. The website addresses of sources are
indicated in the bibliography whenever applicable.

The world region known as East and Southeast Asia comprises seventeen countries
or economies: seven in East Asia and ten in Southeast Asia (World Bank, 2002:241).
The seven East Asia countries are: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea DR, Korea Rep,
Macao and Taiwan. The ten Southeast Asian countries are: Brunei, Cambodia,
Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and
Vietnam. A major constraint to the comparative analysis of these seventeen
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 3

countries is the unevenness of data reporting and available population statistics.


While some countries (for example, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore) publish
periodic and detailed figures on a wide range of population characteristics and census
data, other countries publish only general indicators and/or only irregularly (for
example, China, Malaysia and Vietnam) or sporadically (for example, Brunei,
Cambodia, Korea DR, Lao PDR, Myanmar) or are not included in the United Nations
reports (Taiwan). Thus, the comparative analysis of family trends was conducted on
the ten countries in East and Southeast Asia for which comparative data were
available: China, Hong Kong, Japan and the Republic of Korea (henceforth referred
to as Korea) representing East Asia, and Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam representing Southeast Asia. Although these were the ten
countries with most data available for the comparative analysis, unfortunately, China
and Malaysia had not released their 2000 population census figures when this study
was being conducted (November 2002 to March 2003) and their latest figures were
for the 1990 population census. Comparative population data on Vietnam were
published up to 1989. Due to these problems Malaysia, China and Vietnam could not
be included in some of the tables and charts presented in this paper.

The main objective of comparing specific countries in East and Southeast Asia was to
identify main family trends and to discern their nature and causes. Two important
parameters in this analysis are space (geographical boundaries) and time (historical
period). In terms of geographical boundaries, I address ten nations/economies (nine
sovereign countries plus Hong Kong, the Special Administrative Region of China). In
terms of historical period, the best-documented period as indicated by available
comparative data, is the decade 1990/1991 to 1999/2000. The specific years
included in the analysis are those for which all or the majority of the ten countries
reported comparative data.

To reiterate, not all seventeen countries in East and Southeast Asia could be included
given the lack of comparative data. The analysis and findings presented and
discussed in this paper refers only to the ten countries/economies listed above.
Consequently, the information obtained permits a critical analysis of the assumptions
about family trends in these ten countries but cannot be used to ascertain the
specific situation of the seven countries for which comparative information was not
available. Generalizations to the latter countries should be made with circumspection.
With this cautionary note in mind, the convenient term 'Asian' families will be used
from now on to refer to families in the ten countries in this discussion.

1. Changes in family structure

Observation of the three main manifestations of family formation (singlehood,


marriage and divorce) show that Asian families have undergone structural changes
over the past decade: longer postponement of marriage and an increase in divorces
are the prominent features. However, there is a significant variation across Asian
countries in the nature and intensity of those changes as indicated by age group and
gender data for the ten Asian countries in 1990/91 and 1995/96.

1.1 Marriage postponement

The female singulated mean age at marriage increases significantly with increases in
economic development, irrespective of the economic development indicators used.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 4

Graph 1. Female and male mean age at marriage 1991/97, and


GDP per capita in 1997 as percentage of Japan’s*
35 120

30 30 30 30
29 100 100
28
27 27
26 26
25 25 25 25 84.5
24 24 24 24
79.9 23 80
22 22 22

20

60

15

40
10
29.1

20
5
14

7.7
2.2 3.2 3.5
0 0.1 0
Ch in a Ho n g Ko n g Ko rea Jap an In d o n es ia M alay s ia Ph ilip p in es Sin g ap o re Th ailan d Vietn am

M ale s ingulated age at m arriage 1991/97 Fem ale s ingulated m ean age at m arriage 1991/97
1997GDP as % of Japan's

Sources: Female and male singulated mean age at marriage from United Nations Statistics Division (2002); GDP
per capita as percentage of Japan’s calculated from United Nations (2000a).

Graph 2. Female mean age at marriage 1991/97, 1999 Electric power consumption as % of Japan’s and
Human Development Index 1990

1999 E lec tric P ower Cons um ption (k wh per c ap) as % of Japan's Fem ale m ean age at m arriage 91/97 HDI 1990

120 40

100
100 99.6
93.6 88.2
90.3 89.9

80 80 78.3 30
69.6 69.3
71.6 28 71.4
27 27

60 25 59.1 60.8
24 24
23
22 22 22

40 33.2 20

18.2
20
10.2
4.6 6.1
3.4

0 10
Ch in a Ho n g Ko n g Ko rea Jap an In d o n es ia M alay s ia Ph ilip p in es Sin g ap o re Th ailan d Vietn am

Sources: Mean age at marriage from United Nations Statistics Division (2002b); Electric power consumption in kwh per capita as percentage of
Japan’s calculated from World Bank (2001); HDI data from United Nations Development Programme (1990:128-129).

This is illustrated in Graphs 1 and 2 showing the impact of GDP per capita, electricity
consumption per capita and Human Development Index (HDI) scores. The GDP
figures for the past ten years show the same two trends as those Graphs 1 and 2.
First, the ten countries in the region differ significantly in economic development:
from the post-industrialized economy of Japan to the impoverishment of Vietnam.
This feature of Asia will be discussed in more detail in Section 5 on globalization.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 5

Second, there is a clear tendency for young men and women to postpone marrying
and to utilize the opportunities created by their country's economic development,
particularly educational and employment opportunities. The average age at marriage
is highest for Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, the three countries with the highest
income per capita and HDI ratings. This contrast with the tendency of men and
women to marry early in countries with the lowest GDP and HDI scores: Vietnam,
Indonesia, Philippines, and China.

Another illustration of marriage postponement is the proportion of men and women


in age cohorts 20-24, 30-34, 40-44 and 50-54 remaining single. The trend in the
proportion of single people in each of these age cohorts confirms that of age at
marriage and indicated in Graphs 3 and 4. Three key situations are clearly outlined:
(a) there is a significant difference in singlehood across Asian countries; (b) the
difference in singlehood pattern is clearly associated with a country's level of socio-
economic development ascertained by GDP and HDI scores; and (c) there is a slight
variation between men and women, as the impact of socio-economic development
appears to influence most the postponement of marriage among women in the age
cohort 20-24 (Graph 3) and men in the age cohort 30-34 (Graph 4). The correlation
between socio-economic development indicators and the proportion of singles in
each age cohort of men and women (Table 1) is significant only among the youngest
females adults (aged 20-24) but not among their older counterparts. This suggests
that although postponement of marriage has not reached yet the levels observed
among European and American women it is likely to follow the pattern of developed
countries if the level of socioeconomic development increases.

Graph 3. Proportion of Singles 20-24, 1995/96 by Economic Development 1990/99


120

100 9 9 .6
9 6 .3 9 5 .3
9 2 .6 99 43 .6
9 0 .3 8 9 .9
8 6 .4 8 5 .3
8 3 .2 8 3 .8
80
7 8 .3
7 4 .5 7 4 .4
7 1 .4

6 2 .5
60 5 9 .1
5 7 .5

40 39 40
3 3 .2
2 6 .5 2 8 .1
24
20
1 3 .1 1 2 .4
9 .6
5 .9
0 12.5
.6
01.7
.1 01.6
s
re
ea

nd
n

sia
ne
on
pa

po
or

ila

ne
pi
Ja

gK
K

ga

ha

do
li p
on

In
hi
Si
H

GDP per capita 1990 (US$ thousands) GDP per capita 1997 (U$ thousands)
1995/96 % Male singles 20-24 1995/96 % Female singles 20-24
HDI 1990

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b), United Nations (2000a), UNDP (1990). Definitions: GDP = Gross
development product; HDI = Human Development Index. Singapore figures refer to the 2000 Census of Population (Leow,
2001).
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 6

Graph 4. Proportion of Singles aged 30-34 by Economic Development 1990/99


120

100 99.6
93.6
90.3 89.9

80 78.3
71.4

60 59.1

40 38.3
37.2
33.2
30.7
26.5 28.1
24
20 19.7 19.4 19.5 19.4
16.1 14.3
13.1 12.4 12.9
9.6 9.7
6.7
5.9 5.5
2.6
1.5 1.1
0.7 1
0.6
0

s
ea

d
an

ia
ne
or
on

es
or
p

ila

pi
p
gK
Ja

n
K

ga

ha

do
ili
on

In
Si

Ph
H

GDP per capita 1990 (US$ thousands) GDP per capita 1997 (U$ thousands)
1995/96 % Male singles 30-34 1995/96 % Female singles 30-34
HDI 1990

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b), United Nations (2000a), UNDP (1990). Definitions: GDP = Gross
development product; HDI = Human Development Index. Singapore figures refer to the 2000 Census of Population (Leow,
2001).

As the increase in a country's capacity for wealth creation (i.e., higher level of
industrialization) is accompanied by marked improvements in the standard of living
and overall quality of life of its population, the corresponding association of marriage
postponement with scores in the Human Development Index (Graphs 3 and 4) is not
surprising. The situation of the Philippines is slightly different from the other
countries in that Filipinos tend to have a proportion of singles that and a proportion
of people with formal education that are higher than those of other countries with
similarly low levels of socioeconomic development. Yet, nothwithstanding the
Philippines case, the overall influence of socio-economic development upon marriage
postponement in Asia is evident.

As I shall discuss in Section 2, the postponement of marriage is normally followed by


a delay in the birth of the first child and a corresponding decrease in the total
number of children. The important question here is whether marriage postponement
should be seen as a problem or as a normal feature of a country's improvement in
overall socio-economic development. The interpretation of this trend as a problem
focuses on the accompanying phenomena of postponement of parenthood and fewer
children. From a physical health perspective, medical experts advice that women
give birth in their early twenties as the probability of health risks and complications
for mother and child increases with the age of the mother. From the perspective of
governments concerned with issues of defense, tax revenue and labour force supply,
the decreasing fertility rate is a serious problem.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 7

Table 1. Marriage Postponement and Socioeconomic Development - Pearson's


Correlation Coefficients1

Socioeconomic development indicators


Proportion of singles in age cohort
Electricity Human Human
Gender, Consumption Development Development
age cohort & Correlation (kwh per Index 1990 Index 1999
year capita) 1999
Males 20-24, Pearson correlation .902 .863 .864
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .0001 .001 .003
N2 10 10 9
Males 20-24, Pearson correlation .867 ns .832
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .011 .020
N 7 7
Males 30-34, Pearson correlation .845 .831 .804
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .002 .003 .009
N 10 10 9
Males 30-34, Pearson correlation .827 .864 .864
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .022 .012 .012
N 7 7 7
Males 40-44, Pearson correlation .696 .683 ns
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .025 .030
N 10 10
Males 40-44, Pearson correlation .765 ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .045
N 7
Females 20-24, Pearson correlation .941 .948 .973
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .0001 .0001 .0001
N 10 10 9
Females 20-24, Pearson correlation .913 .878 .939
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .004 .009 .002
N 7 7 7
Females 30-34, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed)
N
Females 30-34, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed)
N
Females 40-44, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed)
N
Females 40-44, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed)
N
1. Sources: Correlations calculated from figures in UNDP (1990); ESCAP (2002); World
Bank (2001).
2. N refers to the number of countries included in the calculation. All ten countries have
marital status data for 1990/91. The 1995/96 marital status data are for six of the ten
countries: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. Data for
Singapore refers to the 2000 Census of Population (Leow, 2001). The other three
countries (China, Malaysia and Vietnam) have no comparable marital status data
available at the time of writing this report. There was no 1999 HDI score for Vietnam.
ns = not statistically significant correlation at p equals or lower than .05.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 8

Irrespective of whether we think in terms of health or economic or defense


implications, the decisions to marry and to procreate are fundamentally private
concerns. Private decisions with public and collective consequences, no doubt, but
still decisions are that fundamental to civil liberties, to the individual's right to choose
and to the individual's right to valid and reliable information on the basis of which
they can make informed decisions. The Declaration of the Millennium Assembly of
the United Nations (United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs,
2001:67) emphasizes the right of men and women to live their lives in dignity. To do
so requires to be informed on choices and on the real and potential consequences of
those choices. Governments need to promote the careful and continuous study of
population changes and distribute objective information to the population on the
long-term effects of marriage postponement.

1.2 Marriage trends and gender

I have chosen the term marriage postponement in the preceding discussion for a
specific reason. The figures on family formation in Asia do not indicate a trend
towards permanent singlehood but rather towards postponement of marriage. A
clear sign of this trend is that the large majority of men and women in the all age
cohorts from age 30 onwards are married. At the same time, just as in the case of
the proportion of singles, the variation in the proportion of married people in the
younger cohorts is associated significantly with the level of socioeconomic
development in each country (Table 2). Graph 5 illustrates this association for
women in the age cohort 20-24 using the Human Development Index 1990 as an
indicator of overall socioeconomic development. Countries with the highest HDI
scores (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore) show the strongest tendency
towards marriage postponement as they have significantly lower proportions of their
women aged 20-24 being married. In contrast, this female cohort has a larger
proportion of married persons in countries with the lowest HDI scores (Indonesia,
Philippines and Thailand).

The gender factor is important in the context of Asia where social norms and
expectations on life goals and family roles differ for men and women. Men, typically
perceived as providers for their families, appear to respond to the pressure to secure
skills training, employment, and their financial situation before getting married.
These endeavors tend to keep an increasing number of single men busy up to their
mid-thirties. But women are more inclined to spend their first decade of adulthood
'enjoying' the experience of employment before fulfilling the personal --and social--
goal of getting married. The significant negative correlation between the proportion
of married persons and the indicator of industrialization and the HDI scores in Table
2 is present for men in the age cohorts 20-24 and 30-34. In contrast, among women
only the cohort 20-24 shows significant coefficients.

An additional perspective of these trends is presented in Graphs 6 and 7. These


graphs highlight the changes from 1990/91 to 1995/96 in the proportion of married
people in the socially significant age cohort 30-34. The message from these graphs is
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 9

Graph 5. Proportion of Married Females 30-34 in 1995/96 and Human Development Index
1990
% Married Women 20-24, 1995/96

65

60 Indonesia Thailand
57.6 58
55

Proportion of Male Singles 30-34, 1995/96


50

45
Philippines
41.2
40

35

30

25

20
Korea 15.7
16.6 HongKong
15 Singapore 14.3
12.6 Japan
10
55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110
Human Development Index 1990

Source: UNDP (1990); United Nations Statistics Division (2002b); and Leow (2001). Singapore
figures are for 2000.

that, notwithstanding the influence of the level of socioeconomic development


discussed above, the differences in political and cultural conditions of Asian countries
preclude easily generalizations. With no obvious effort on the part of the state to
stop or reverse the trend, Japan and Hong Kong are facing a clear decline in the
proportion of married men and women. While having high HDI scores as Japan and
Hong Kong, Singapore shows an upward trend in the proportion of married among
people aged 30-34. Singapore is a contrasting case where the state has set a pattern
of intervention with schemes and incentives to promote marriage among the younger
generations (Quah, 1998a:82-122).

1.3. Divorce trends

Marital dissolution is a rather complex and private problem. While attitudes towards
divorce vary from one community to another, divorce is at best handled with mixed
feelings, and it may be perceived as a failure by the persons involved as well as by
those close to the couple (family, friends, colleagues). It is widely recognized that
the most seriously affected by marital breakdown are the children. As there are no
comparable data on attitudes towards divorce in the ten Asian countries covered in
this analysis, the data examined here draw on demographic and socioeconomic
variables in the total population. The divorce figures in particular come from the
United Nations Statistics Division’s Common Database. As only some countries
reported figures for “Separated” and “Divorced,” only the “Divorced” category was
used in the analysis to enhance comparability.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 10

Table 2. Proportion of Married Persons and Socioeconomic Development - Pearson's


Correlation Coefficients1

Socioeconomic indicators
Proportion of Married Persons in age
cohort Electricity Human Human
Consumption Development Development
(kwh per Index 1990 Index 1999
Gender,
capita) 1999
age cohort & Correlation
year
Males 20-24, Pearson correlation -.907 -.874 -.874
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .0001 .001 .002
N2 10 10 9
Males 20-24, Pearson correlation -.903 -.789 -.869
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .005 .035 .011
N 7 7 7
Males 30-34, Pearson correlation -.835 -.826 -.793
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .003 .003 .011
N 10 10 9
Males 30-34, Pearson correlation -.838 -.861 -.858
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .018 .013 .013
N 7 7 7
Males 40-44, Pearson correlation -.694 -.705 ns
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .026 .023
N 10 10
Males 40-44, Pearson correlation -.763 ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .046
N 7
Females 20-24, Pearson correlation -.944 -.949 -.976
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed) .0001 .0001 .0001
N 10 10 9
Females 20-24, Pearson correlation -.920 -.885 -.944
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed) .003 .008 .001
N 7 7 7
Females 30-34, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed)
N
Females 30-34, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed)
N
Females 40-44, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1990/91 Significance (2-tailed)
N
Females 40-44, Pearson correlation ns ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-tailed)
N
3. Sources: Correlations calculated from figures in UNDP (1990); ESCAP (2002); World
Bank (2001).
4. N refers to the number of countries included in the calculation. All ten countries have
marital status data for 1990/91. The 1995/96 marital status data are for six of the ten
countries: Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. Data for
Singapore refers to the 2000 Census of Population (Leow, 2001). The other three
countries (China, Malaysia and Vietnam) have no comparable marital status data
available at the time of writing this report. There was no 1999 HDI score for Vietnam.
ns = not statistically significant correlation at p equals or lower than .05.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 11

Graph 6. Proportion of Married Men in age cohort 30-34 in 1990/91 and 1995/96*
88.6 88.9 Indonesia
88

85 85.1

82 81.6
80.6 Thailand
80 79.6
79.2 Korea
79
Philippines

76

73

70

67
65.8
65.2
64.3 64.2 Singapore
64

61 60.4
60.1 Hong Kong, Japan

58

55
1990/91 % Married Males 30-34 1995/96 % Married Males 30-34

Hong Kong Korea Japan Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand

Sources: Same in Graphs 3 to 5. Data for Singapore is from the Census of Population in 1990 and 2000.

Graph 7. Proportion of Married Women in age cohort 30-34 in 1990/91 and 1995/96*
95

92.3
92 Korea
91.3
Indonesia
89.6 89.8
89

86

83 83
82.7 Philippines, Thailand
82.4
82.3

80 79.7
78.3
77.9 Singapore
77 Japan
76.2 76.3

74

Hong Kong
71 70.9

68

65
1990/91 % Married Females 30-34 1995/96 % Married Females 30-34

Hong Kong Korea Japan Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand

Sources: Same in Graphs 3 to 5. Data for Singapore is from the Census of Population in 1990 and 2000.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 12

Graph 8. Proportion of Divorced Men in Selected Age Cohorts, 1990/91 and 1995/96

4.5

3.5
3.2 Japan
3 3 Singapore
2.9

Hong Kong
2.5 2.5 Korea

2
1.8
1.8
Japan
1.6 Hong Kong
1.5 1.5 1.5
1.4 1.4
Indonesia Indonesia
1.1 1.1
1 Philippines
0.9 0.9 0.9
0.8 0.8 Korea, Singapore 0.8 Thailand
0.7 0.7 0.7
0.6 0.6 Philippines, Thailand
0.5 0.5

0
Men 30-34, 90/91 Men 30-34, 95/96 --Series-- Men 40-44, 90/91 Men 40-44, 95/96

Hong Kong Korea Japan Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand

Source: United Nations Statistical Division (2002b)

Graph 9. Proportion of Divorced Women in Selected Age Cohorts, 1990/91 and


1995/96
6.5

6
5.6 Japan
5.5
5.2
5
Singapore
4.6
4.5 4.5

4 4 4 Hong Kong
3.7Indonesia
3.5 3.4 Japan
3.3
Indonesia 3.2
3 2.9
2.8Korea

2.5 2.4 Singapore 2.4


2.1
2 2 2 Hong Kong
1.7Philippines
Thailand 1.6
1.5 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4Thailand
1.3 1.3 Philippines
1.2
1.1 Korea
1

0.5

0
Women 30-34, 90/91 Women 30-34, 95/96 --Series-- Women 40-44, 90/91 Women 40-44, 95/96

Hong Kong Korea Japan Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand

Source: United Nations Statistical Division (2002b); Leow (2001). Singapore figures are from the 2000 Census of Population.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 13

Table 3. Correlation of Proportion of Divorced Persons in Selected Age Cohorts,


Marriage Age and Socioeconomic Development (Pearson's Correlation Coefficients)1

Electricity % 15-19 Female Male Human Human


Proportion of Divorced
Consumpti Female singulated singulated Developm Developm
Persons in age cohort on population means means ent Index ent Index
(kwh/cap) ever age at age at 1990 1999
Gender, 1999 married, marriage marriage
age cohort Correlation 1991/98 1991/97 1991/97
& year
Males 20-24, Pearson correlation ns .721 ns ns -.669 -.673
1990/91 Significance (2-t) .019 .034 .047
N2 10 10 9
Males 20-24, Pearson correlation ns .817 ns ns ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-t) .025
N 7
Males 30-34, Pearson correlation ns ns ns ns ns ns
1990/91 Significance (2-t)
N
Males 30-34, Pearson correlation ns ns ns ns ns ns
1995/96 Significance (2-t)
N
Males 40-44, Pearson correlation ns ns ns ns ns ns
1990/91 Significance (2-t)
N
Males 40-44, Pearson correlation .982 -.837 .822 .953 .863 .922
1995/96 Significance (2-t) .0001 .019 .023 .001 .012 .003
N 7 7 7 7 7 7
Females 20- Pearson correlation ns .724 ns ns ns ns
24, 1990/91 Significance (2-t) .018
N 10
Females 20- Pearson correlation ns .845 ns ns ns -.813
24, 1995/96 Significance (2-t) .017 .026
N 7 7
Females 30- Pearson correlation ns ns ns ns ns ns
34, 1990/91 Significance (2-t)
N
Females 30- Pearson correlation ns ns ns ns ns ns
34, 1995/96 Significance (2-t)
N
Females 40- Pearson correlation ns ns ns ns ns ns
44, 1990/91 Significance (2-t)
N
Females 40- Pearson correlation .762 ns ns .762 ns ns
44, 1995/96 Significance (2-t) .046 .046
N 7 7
1.Sources: Correlations calculated from figures in UNDP (1990); ESCAP (2002); World Bank
(2001).
2.N refers to the number of countries included in the calculation. All ten countries have marital
status data for 1990/91. The 1995/96 marital status data are for six of the ten countries:
Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. Data for Singapore refers to
the 2000 Census of Population (Leow, 2001). The other three countries (China, Malaysia and
Vietnam) have no comparable marital status data available at the time of writing this report.
There was no 1999 HDI score for Vietnam.
ns = not statistically significant correlation at p equals or lower than .05.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 14

As it is the case in Europe and the Americas, divorce is increasing in Asia (Graphs 8
and 9 illustrate this trend with two age cohorts of men and women). However, the
increase requires qualification. The possible influence of a number of macro-social
factors (such as illiteracy rates, rates of female labour force participation and female
economic activity, level of urbanization, and indicators of socioeconomic
development) on the proportion of divorced persons in each age cohort were
examined through bivariate and factor analysis. Table 3 offers a summary of the
most important of these correlations. Three main features were identified in the
analysis: (a) divorce rates in different age cohorts are affected by different sets of
factors; (b) the divorce trend is different for men and women; and (c) the cultural or
socio-economic characteristics of each country play a part in the landscape of divorce.

2.1 Age and divorce

Factors contributing to individuals’ and couples’ decision to breakup their marriage


vary according to age. The well-known fact that couples who marry young (say, in
their late teens or early twenties) are the most vulnerable to divorce given their
immaturity and lack of financial stability, cannot be confirmed directly with the
available data, but indirect figures suggest the same trend in Asia. Countries like
Indonesia with higher proportions of married female teenagers (aged 15-19) are
more likely than other countries to have higher proportions of divorced men and
women in the age cohorts 20-24 (Table 3). Another aspect of interest is the
difference in the proportions of divorced persons in each age cohort. The proportion
of divorced persons increases drastically from the age cohort 20-24 to age cohort
50-54 (Graphs 8 and 9). I elaborate on the age variation in section 2.3 below.

2.2 Gender and divorce

A distinct gender variation is detected in the proportion of divorced persons in each


age cohort. As illustrated in Graphs 8 and 9, the proportion of women who are
divorced is larger than that of divorced men at any age in all countries. This
characteristic has important implications for family formation and family structure in
Asia. It appears that men who divorce are likely to remarry soon after (or to be
already married to another wife when the laws of the country permit polygamy as is
the case in Muslim countries such Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei where matrimony
and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the Islamic or Shariah Court). It is more
difficult for a divorced woman to remarry for various reasons including her role as
custodian parent (there is a tendency to give child custody to the mother) and, given
traditional beliefs, the weight of negative social stereotypes of divorced women.
Divorced women with dependent children face serious constraints as single parents
and as breadwinners particularly when they lack marketable skills that could secure
them a job.

2.3 Divorce and country-specific characteristics

The rich diversity of cultures, languages, socio-economic and political structures of


Asian countries influences the lives of their peoples and consequently the structure of
their families and family life. Using the data that permit comparisons, seven of the
ten countries with complete figures for 1990/91 and 1995/96 could be examined
(Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand). The two
main factors associated with divorce trends are the level of wealth ascertained by the
country's 1997 gross national product per capita (GDP) and the level of
socioeconomic development indicated by the Human Development Index (HDI)
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 15

scores for 1990 and 1999. Table 3 and Graphs 10 and 11 illustrate the main
differences across countries.

Countries with high economic development (high GDP per capita in 1990 and 1997)
such Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, are more likely than countries with low GDP
(for example, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia) to have higher proportions of
divorced persons in the age groups 40 to 55 (Graphs 10 and 11). Indonesia is an
exception to this trend as it has large proportions of divorced women in these age
groups (Graph 11). The influence of Islam on the values, social expectations, and
formal regulations concerning marriage and divorce sets Indonesia apart from the
other six countries in this comparison. Both Thailand and Philippines have Muslim
communities, but they are minorities whereas the large majority of the population in
Indonesia is Muslim.

The pattern shown by the correlation of 1997 GDP per capita with the 1995/96
proportion of divorcees among males aged 40-44 (r= .918, p=.004) and 50-54
(r= .944; p = 001) and females aged 40-44 (r= .849; p= .016) and 50-54 (r= .836;
p =..019), is confirmed by the correlation with Human Development Index scores
(Table 3). With the exception of Indonesian female divorcees (whose circumstances
were discussed in section 2.2), people over 40 years of age in countries with high
levels of socioeconomic development (i.e., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea)
have a higher probability of divorce, compared their counterparts in countries with
lowers levels of socioeconomic development (i.e., men and women in Thailand and
Philippines and men in Indonesia). It appears that a possible explanation for marital
dissolution in addition to personal and private motives, is the configuration of factors
associated with high economic development (for example, better educated
population, wider variety of role options for women in addition to family or domestic
roles, individuals’ career orientation and interest in personal development, among
other factors).

1.4. Changes in household size

The fourth and final aspect to be discussed on changes in family structure is the
pattern of changes in the size of households. The term ‘household’ encompasses the
ideas of the ‘visible’ family and ‘home’ as it refers to the number of people living
under one roof and sharing one budget.

In traditional societies, the close proximity to kin was considered a valuable feature
of one’s home both in terms of physical and economic security. Close proximity to
kin was often implemented by the sharing of the same physical compound or the
same house by members of the extended family. As societies become economically
and socially more diverse, heads of nuclear families within the extended family earn
a living in a wider variety of occupations and locations. This process together with
changes in the value of privacy, authority and hierarchy within the family, have led
to the setting up of independent homes by nuclear and three-generation families
thus changing the composition of domestic households everywhere. The average
number of persons in domestic households is a good indicator of such a change.
Graph 12 illustrates the progressive decline in the average size of domestic
households in the ten Asian countries from 1980 to 2000. I include the United
Kingdom and the United States as interesting illustrations of the global nature of this
change.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 16

Graph 10. Proportion of Divorced Men by Age Cohort and GDP, 1995/97

4.5 35
4.2

4
30

3.5
3.2
3 25
3 2.9

2.5 2.52.5
2.5 20

2
2 15
1.6
1.5
1.5
1.1 1.1 10
1
1 0.9 0.9
0.8 0.8
0.7
0.6 0.6 0.6
0.4 5
0.5
0.2 0.2
0.1 0.1 0.1
0
0 0
Japan Korea HongKong Singapore Thailand Philippines Indonesia

% Divorced Men 20-24, 95/96 % Divorced Men 30-34, 95/96 % Divorced Men 40-44, 95/96
% Divorced Men 50-54, 95/96 GDP per capita 1997 (U$ thousands)

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b) and United Nations (2000a). GDP = Gross development product.

Graph 11. Proportion of Divorced Women by Age Cohort and GDP, 1995/97

7 35

6
6 5.6 30
5.4

5 4.6 25

4
4 3.7 3.73.7 20
3.4 3.3

3 2.8 15
2.4
2 2 2
2 1.7 10
1.4 1.41.3 1.5
1.3
1.1
0.9
1 0.6 5
0.5 0.5
0.3
0
0 0
Japan Korea HongKong Singapore Thailand Philippines Indonesia

% Divorced Women 20-24, 95/96 % Divorced Women 30-34, 95/96 % Divorced Women 40-44, 95/96
% Divorced Women 50-54, 95/96 GDP per capita 1997 (U$ thousands)

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b) and United Nations (2000a). GDP = Gross development product.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 17

Graph 12. Changes in Average Size of Households in Selected Asian Countries,


United Kingdom and the United States, 1980-2000

Japan Korea China Hong Kong Singapore M alaysia


Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam United Kingdom United States
6

5.6
5.5
5.3
5.2
5.2
5 5 Philippines
4.9
4.8 4.8 Vietnam
4.7
4.6 4.6 Malaysia
4.5 4.5
4.4
4.3
4 4
3.9 Indonesia, Thailand
3.9
3.7 3.7 Singapore
3.6 China
3.5
3.4
3.2 3.3 Korea
3 3.1 Hong Kong
3
2.8 2.7 Japan
2.6
2.5 2.5 United States
2.4
United Kingdom
2

1.5
1980 1991/94 2000
Sources: United Nations Statistics Division (2002a); The Economist (2003); and country statistics
provided by the official statistics bureaus listed in the Bibliography.

Graph 13. Average Size of Households in Selected Asian Countries, 1991/94 and
2000, and GDP per capita, 1994 and 1997

6 40
37.4
35
33.2 5.3
Average Size of Domestic Households

5 5 30
GDP per capita (US$ thousands)

28.1 4.8 4.8


4.8
26.5 4.6
4.5 25
4.4
4.3
21.7 21.4
4 20
3.9 3.9
3.7 3.7
3.6
3.6
15
3.4
3.3
3.1
3 3 9.6 10
8.5
2.7
4.7 5
3.7
2.6
2.5
11.1 1
0.9 0.3 0.7
0.4
2 0.2 0
Japan Singapore Hong Kong Korea Malaysia Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam China

AHS 2000 AHS 1991/94 GDP per capita 1994 GDP per capita 1997

Sources: United Nations (1996); United Nations Statistics Division (2002a); The Economist (2003); and country statistics
provided by the official statistics bureaus listed in the Bibliography.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 18

Following the same pattern of other family structure features discussed earlier, the
change in the size of domestic households is found in all the ten countries but it does
take place at a different pace or ‘speed’ in different countries depending on their
level of economic, political and socio-cultural development. There is an inverse
correlation between wealth and household size both in 1991/1994 (Pearson’s r = -
.741; p = .014) and 1997/2000 (Pearson’s r = -.717; p = .020). Countries with high
GDP per capita have smaller domestic households than less affluent countries. Two
exceptions to this general trend are Singapore and China (Graph 13). Singapore has
a higher than expected household size, given its relatively high level of wealth. But
the Singapore government has emphasized for many years the importance of
procreation and of three-generation families (i.e., nuclear families with
grandparents). China is another exception to this inverse correlation, but for
different reasons. China’s strict implementation of its one-child policy over the past
decades and the job location of young or single Chinese workers are reflected in its
smaller than expected domestic household size.

The differences and similarities in domestic household size among the ten Asian
countries are easily identified when seen in terms of level of economic development.
The same general inverse association with level of wealth (seen in Graph 13), is
confirmed by the inverse association with Human Development Index scores in 2000
(Pearson’s r = -.806; p = .002). At the same time, the differences among Asian
countries are evident. There is a wider variation in average household size and HDI
among the six less developed countries (Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Philippines,
Thailand, and Malaysia) compared to Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea. Japan on the
other hand is in the same general category as the United States and the United
Kingdom: small households and high levels of wealth and social development.

2. Demographic transformation

The changes in family structure discussed above are taking place within the context
of major demographic transformations in all the ten Asian countries. These changes
are best portrayed by the youth dependency index and the old age dependency
index. But before these two indicators of demographic transition are discussed is
pertinent to take a look at the situation on the basic aspects of fertility, maternal
mortality, and infant mortality.

2.1. Infant mortality, maternal mortality and fertility

Infant mortality and maternal mortality are typically associated with economic
development. The inverse association is well documented throughout the world. The
pattern found in the ten Asian countries fits that inverse association well as shown in
Graphs 14 and 15. Countries with high levels of development and quality of life
(Japan, Korea, Singapore) have reduced female mortality rates of associated with
childbirth and infant mortality. High maternal and infant mortality rates are found in
countries with low economic development and poorer quality of life (Vietnam,
Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and China). Malaysia offers an interesting case as its
infant and maternal mortality rates are lower than expected given its comparatively
lower level of socioeconomic development.

Fertility rates have dropped in all the ten countries over the past two decades but
there is a strong association of this drop with GDP per capita both in 1980 (Pearson
correlation r = -.759; p = .011) and 1998 (Pearson correlation r = -.671; p = .034).
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 19

That is, fertility rates are significantly lower in countries with high GDP and Human
Development Index scores such as Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore (Graph 16). As
indicated earlier, a notable exception to this profile of fertility is China, due to its
determination to control population growth through its one-child policy.

Graph 14. Infant Mortality Rate 2000, Maternal Mortality Ratio 1989-1999, and
1999 Human Development Index

400 95
92.8
350
350 90
320
87.5 87.6
300 300
300 85
1996 IMR and 1998 MMR

250
250 80

HDI 1999
200 75.1 75.7 75
74.9

71.8
150 70
68.2
67.4
100 80 65

50
50 40 40 38 60
17
2 5.5 4.1 4.4 9.5
0.8 0.6
0 55
Japan Korea China Singapore Malaysia Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam

1998 Infant mortality rate per 10,000 1998 Maternal mortality rate per 10,000 Human Development Index 1999

Source: UNICEF (2002); The Economist (2003). Definitions: Infant mortality rate 2000: probability of dying
between birth and 1 year of age expressed per 10,000 live births. Maternal mortality ratio 1985-1999: annual
number of female deaths from pregnancy-related causes per 10,000 live births.

Graph 15. Infant Mortality Rate 2000, Maternal Mortality Ratio 1989-1999, and
1997 GDP per capita as percentage of Japan’s (US$ Millions)

1998 Infant mortality rate per 10,000 1998 Maternal mortality rate per 10,000
GDP per capita 1997 as % of Japan's
400 120
350
350 100 100
320
300 300
300 84.5
80
250
250
60
200
40
150
29.1
20
100 80 14
7.7
50 2.2 3.5 3.2
50 40 40 38 0.1 0
17 9.5
0.8 2 5.5 0.6 4.1 4.4
0 -20
Japan Korea China Singapore Malaysia Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam

Source: UNICEF (2002). Definitions: Infant mortality rate 2000: probability of dying between birth and 1 year of age
expressed per 10,000 live births. Maternal mortality ratio 1985-1999: annual number of female deaths from pregnancy-
Related causes per 10,000 live births. Japan’s 1997 GDP = 100%.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 20

Graph 16 . Total fertility rate 1980 and 1998 and Human development Index 1990
110 6

100 99.6

93.6 5
90 90.3 89.9

80 80 4
78.3
3.6
71.6 71.4
70
3.1
3
60 2.7 60.8
59.1
2.3
50 2
1.9 1.9
1.6
1.5
40 1.4
1.1
1
30

20 0
China Hong Kong Korea Japan Malaysia Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam

HDI 1990 Total fertility rate 1980 Fertility rate 1998

Sources: Asian Development Bank (2000); The Economist (2003). Total fertility rate: births per woman.

2.2 Youth and Old Age dependency

Following the trend in fertility, the youth dependency ratio (the ratio of persons aged
0 to 14 to those aged 15 to 64) in all the ten Asian countries declined over the past
half a century as shown in Graph 17. But the decline was not steady for all countries.
Philippines, Hong Kong and, in particular Vietnam, experienced an increase in the
YDR from 1950 to 1975 before it began to decline. The sharp increase in Vietnam
that peaked in the late 1970s, was due in part to its efforts at recovery after the war.
As can be appreciated in Graph 18, the reduction in the youth dependency ratio has
been accompanied by a steady increase in the old age dependency ratio (the ratio of
persons aged 65 and older to those aged 15 to 64).

These demographic transitions play an important role in reshaping the structure of


the family and family relations over time. The presence of several children leads
parents to charge the older sibling with the duty of looking after the younger ones.
Children tend to learn responsibility through practice when they have many siblings.
whereas a single child is usually the centre of parental attention. Concerning
intergenerational value transmission, the absence of grandparents diminishes the
grandchildren's opportunities to learn first hand values and norms from the older
generation. Compared to a typical large extended family in the 1950s sharing one
large house, in a family home today we are likely to find the two parents and their
two (or at the most three) children with possibly one or two grandparents.
Grandparents may visit their married children, rotating their visits among their
children. But the more economically developed a country is, the more likely
grandparents are to live in their separate homes, by themselves. In Japan, the
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 21

Graph 17. Youth Dependency Ratio 1950, 1975 and 2000


90

80 Philippines

70 Malaysia,Vietnam

60 Indonesia

50 Thailand
China
40 Singapore
Korea
30 Hong Kong
Japan
20

10 1950 1975 2000

China 54.1 70.4 36.4


Hong Kong 45.2 47.2 22.4
Korea 75.3 64.4 28.9
Japan 59.5 35.8 21.6
Malaysia 75.7 77.7 55.2
Indonesia 68.9 74.7 47.7
Philippines 82.5 83.9 63.7
Singapore 70.8 52.1 30.8
T hailand 77.1 78.6 39.1
Vietnam 49.6 82.9 54.4

Source: United Nations (2002)

Graph 18. Old Age Dependency Ratio 1950, 1975 and 2000
30

25 Japan

20

15 Hong Kong

10 Singapore, China
Korea, Vietnam
Thailand, Indonesia
5 Malaysia, Philippines

0 1950 1975 2000

China 7.2 7.8 10


Hong Kong 3.7 8.4 14.5
Korea 5.5 6.2 9.8
Japan 8.3 11.6 25.2
Malaysia 9.4 6.9 6.7
Indonesia 7 5.9 7.5
Philippines 6.8 5.8 6
Singapore 4.2 6.5 10.2
Thailand 5.9 5.8 7.7
Vietnam 6.6 9.3 8.7

Source: United Nations (2002)


Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 22

proportion of elderly persons living alone increased steadily from 611,000 in 1975 to
3,179,000 in 2001. The corresponding figures for elderly couples households are
931,000 in 1975 to 4,545,000 in 2001 (Asahi Shimbun, 2003:32).

3. Migration

The well-known theory of push and pull factors motivating people to relocate across
countries is confirmed by the figures on international net migration (INM) rates. The
net rate is defined as "incoming international migrants less outgoing international
migrants per 1,000 population (United Nations Statistics Division, 2002b).

It is clear that that migration has remained relatively stable for the past two decades
in most Asian countries with the exception of Singapore, Hong Kong and the
Philippines (Graph 19). The search for better economic opportunities has prompted
the bulk of outgoing international migrants in Philippines, which shows the largest
negative INM rate of all ten Asian countries in Graph 19. On the other hand,
Singapore and Hong Kong have the highest positive INM rates as these two global
cities provide the employment opportunities for various categories of workers both
skilled, such as professional and technical workers, and unskilled, mostly in
construction and domestic work (Quah, 1997). The international search for talent is a
serious endeavor of the Singapore government.

Still, Graph 19 also illustrates that incoming migration to Singapore and Hong Kong
peaked in the early 1990s and has declined since then in response to the global
economic downturn affecting employment opportunities everywhere but particularly
in multinational corporations (World Bank, 2000) among other reasons. The impact
of economic development on migration is clearly illustrated in Graph 20. Countries
with high gross national income per capita tend to have larger positive INM rates (for
the year 2000, the inverse correlation is Pearson r = -.601, p = .039).

While successful migration (for example, finding a well-paid job in another country)
is a welcome triumph, it comes at a high price to the migrant worker in terms of
family life. A considerable number of sociological studies in the Philippines since the
1980s have focused on the strain faced by families when one or both parents have to
emigrate in search of work (Quah, 1993a:86; Quah, 1993b). Filipinos are generally
acquainted with internal migration from rural villages to cities and on to Metropolitan
Manila. But the move of one or more breadwinners to a job in another country
posses more serious challenges to the cohesion of married couples, husband-wife
communication, parent-child bonding, parental authority and adolescent behaviour,
among other aspects. On the positive side, the migrant worker's network of support
is mobilized on a reciprocal basis: the worker sends money regularly to his/her
family and kin while the extended kin provide support to the worker's spouse, now
de facto a single parent, and children left behind (Medina, 1991:51-52; 177-179;
246-248).

The increasing number of unskilled or low-skilled migrant workers demands that


careful consideration be given to their family situation by the governments of both
the country of origin and the host country. Measures should be put in place to
alleviate the great effort they need to make to safeguard their family life. For
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 23

Graph 19. Changes in International Migration Net Rate in Ten Asian Countries,
United Kingdom and the United States, 1980-2000
Japan Korea China Hong Kong Singapore Malaysia
Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam United Kingdom United States
17
16
15.403
15
14
13
12 11.713 11.902 Singapore
11 11.146

10
9
8 7.97 Hong Kong
7
6
5 5.069

4 4.015 4.143 USA


3.172
3
2 1.592 UK
1.34
1 Japan
0.296 0.423
0.234 China
0 0.024
0.012
0-0.026
-0.278 -0.088 -0.139
-0.248
-0.348 -0.321
-0.52 -0.337
-0.435 Thailand
-0.628
-0.72
-0.909 -0.823
-1 -0.959
-0.984 Vietnam
Korea
-2 -2.269 Malaysia
-2.782
-3 -3.184 Indonesia
-4 Philippines

-5
1980 1990 2000
Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b). Definition of international migration net rate = Incoming international
migrants less outgoing international migrants, per 1,000 total population.

Graph 20. International Migration Net Rate in 2000 and Gross National Income per
14
capita in 2000 40

12 35.6 35
11.902 34.1

10 30
2000 GNI per capita (US$ in thousands)

25.9
8 7.97 24.7 24.4 25
IM net rate

6 20

4 15.403 4.14315

11.146
2 10
8.9 1.592

0.423 0.234
0 -0.139 -0.248 5
-0.337 -0.435 4.015
3.4 -0.823
2 1.34
0.84 1 0.6 0.4
-2 0.296 -0.321 -0.088 0
-0.52 -0.909 -2.269 -0.628 -0.72
-2.782
-4 -5
Japan Korea China Hong Kong Singapore Malaysia Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam United United
Kingdom States

IM net rate 2000 GNI per capita 2000 IM net rate 1990

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b); World Bank (2001). Definition of international migration net rate =
Incoming international migrants less outgoing international migrants, per 1,000 total population.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 24

Graph 21. HIV/AIDS Total Prevalence and Mode of Transmission:


35
Injecting Drug Use, 2001 1
32
0.9
0.88
30
0.8

% of cases due to injecting drug use


25 0.7
22.3
% of total prevalence

0.6
20 0.56
0.5

15
0.4

10 0.3
0.25
6.6 6.2
5.3 0.2
5
0.11 0.12
2.3 2.1 0.1
1.7 1.6 1.7
0.9 0.5 0.9 0.05
0 0 00.02 0 0
0 0.01 0 0.01 0
Japan Korea China Hong Singapore Malaysia Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam
Kong

% of total male AIDS cases due to injecting drug use % of total female AIDS cases due to injecting drug use
HIV/AIDS Prevalence rate in population age 15-49, 2001

Source: UNAIDS (2002)

Graph 22. Mode of AIDS Transmission: Heterosexual Contact


120 1.4
1.32

1.2
100 95.3
88.8
85.5 85.5
81.3 82.7 1
80
HIV prevalence rate

71.5
Illiteracy rates

64.4 0.8
60 60.7
60 53.4
48.2 0.6
44.6
41.3
40
0.4
25.9

20 14.9
0.2
0.12 0.13
0.09
0.06 0.05
0.03 0.01 0.01
0 0 0
m
d
g

ia
s
an

na

a
a

or

si

e
n
n
re

es

na
in
hi

ila
Ko
p

ay
ap
Ko
Ja

on
pp

et
C

a
al
g

ng

Th

Vi
ili

d
on

In
Ph
Si
H

% of total female AIDS cases due to heterosexual contact % of total male AIDS cases due to heterosexual contact
HIV Prevalence rate 2001, Females 15-24

Source: UNAIDS (2002)


Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 25

Graph 23. Proportion of total AIDS cases due to injecting drug use, and % of Male
25
and Female Population who are Illiterate, 2000 60
22.6
54.7

50

% total AIDS cases due to injecting drug use


20
17.9
16.4
40
38.5 38.2
15
Illiteracy rates

11.5 30
10
10 9
8.5 8.1
7.7 20
6

5 4.5 4.8 4.3


3.6 3.5 3.6 10
2.8

0.8 4.8
0 0 1.7 1.6 1.7
0 0.5 0 0.6 0
Japan Korea China Hong Singapore Malaysia Thailand Philippines Indonesia Vietnam
Kong

Proportion of Male Population who are illiterate 2000 Proportion of Female population who are illiterate, 2000
% of total AIDS cases due to injecting drug use

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (2002b); UNESCO (1999).

Graph 24. Orphans due to AIDS, 1995 and 2001

30
28 27.6
26
AIDS orphans as % of total orphans

24
22
20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6.96
6
4 4.3
2 1.4
0.5 0.28
0.3 0.89 0.4 0.3
0 0.01 0 0.08 0.06 0 0.06
-2
China Korea Japan Malaysia Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam

Orphans due to AIDS as % of total orphans, 1995


Orphans due to AIDS as % of total orphans, 2001

Source: UNAIDS (2002)


Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 26

Graph 25. Urbanization and Industrialization - Percent Urban Population in 1990 &
2000 and Electric power consumption, 1999
8000 120

7442.6

Elec tric pow3er c onsumption (kwh per capita) 1999 7000


99.9
100 100
6640.9 100

6000

81.9 80
78.8

% Urban population
77.4 5159.8 5178.3
5000 73.8

4000 58.6 60
57.4
49.8 48.8
3000
40.9 40
2474.4
32.1 30.6
2000
27.4
21.6
1351.9 19.7 20
18.7
1000
757.8
453.6 344.6 252.2
0 0

m
g

a
an

na

s
e
ea

si
n

e
si
or

na
in
hi
Ko
r

ila
p

ay

ne
ap
Ko
Ja

pp
C

te
a
al

do
g

ng

Th

Vi
ili
on

In
Ph
Si
H

Elec tric ity power c onsumption (kwh per cap) 1999 % Urban population 1990 % Urban population 2000

Source: United Nations (2000), World Bank (2001)

Graph 26. Total Female Economic Activity Rates 1950, 1980 and 2000*
60

56 56 China,
55 55
Thailand
53

50 50 50 Vietnam
49
47
45 44 44
43 Japan, Hong Kong
Korea
40 39
39 Singapore, Indonesia
37
35 35
33 33
32 32
32 Philippines, Malaysia
30
28
27
26
25
24

21
20 20
18

15
13

10
FEA 1950 FEA 1980 FEA 2000
China Hong Kong Korea Japan Malaysia Indonesia
Philippines Singapore Thailand Vietnam
Source: ILO (2002)
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 27

Graph 27. Proportion of children in labor force, Total orphans as % of all children 0-
14, 2001 and Human Development Index 1999*
10 14
9.28

9 8.75 8.76
12.2 12

8 7.57
7.51 7.49
7.18 10
6.9
7 6.74
6.3
7.9 7.8 8
6
5.2
5 4.8 6
4.3 4.4 5.4

4
3.5 4

3
2.3 2.4
2
2

0 0 0 0
1

0 -2
China Korea Japan Malaysia Indonesia Philippines Singapore Thailand

Orphans as % of all children 0-14, 2001 Human Development Index 1999


Percentage of Children 10-14 in labor force, 2001

* Source: UNICEF (2002) and ESCAP (2002)

Graph 28. Proportion of children in labor force in 2001 and Percentage of Female
Labour Force Self-employed, 1990/1997
13

12 12.2 Thailand

11
% of children 10-14 in labour force, 2001

10

9
Indonesia
8 7.8
7
Philippines
6
5.4
5

3 Malaysia
2.3
2

1 Hong Kong Singapore Japan Korea


0 0 0 0 0

-1
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
% of Female labour force self-employed 1990/97
Percentage of Children 10-
14 in labor force, 2001

* Source: UNICEF (2002) and ESCAP (2002)


Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 28

example, in host countries, the job contracts of foreign professional or skilled


workers differ significantly from contracts of foreign unskilled or low-skilled workers:
the latter typically proscribe the presence of spouse and children and do not include
'paid home leave'.

4. Impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic

Reflecting the heterogeneity of countries in the region, the impact of the HIV/AIDS
pandemic varies drastically from one country to another. The countries least affected
thus far are Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The official figures for
Philippines are low but there is the possibility of inaccurate recording due to the
logistical difficulties. The countries most affected are Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam,
in that order (Graph 21). The main modes of AIDS transmission are heterosexual
contact and injecting drug use (Graphs 22 and 23). The latter mode is most common
in China and Indonesia.

From the perspective of the effect on the family, the seriousness of the pandemic in
Thailand is conveyed by the impact on the young. Thailand has the highest HIV
prevalence rate among women aged 15-24 (Graph 22); the highest percentage of
orphans due to AIDS out of the total number of orphans; and the steepest increase
in the proportion of AIDS orphans from 1995 to 2001 (Graph 24). As suggested in
Graph 23, the level of illiteracy is positively associated with injecting drug use as a
mode of HIV transmission (for male illiteracy: Pearson r = .728; p = .017; for
female illiteracy: Pearson r = .810; p = .004). This suggests that efforts at
increasing the population's level of education are not only necessary for the overall
development of a country but also for the specific aspect of motivating preventive
behaviour concerning drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. A note of interest here is that no
significant association was found between the prevalence of HIV/AIDS or modes of
transmission and the country's level of socioeconomic development (ascertained by
wealth indicators such as GDP per capita, or by more comprehensive measures such
as the Human Development Index). HIV/AIDS is a global problem found at all levels
of socioeconomic development but it is fundamentally based on private decisions that
have extremely serious public consequences. For this reason, public health education
addressed to specific target populations is a promising course of action (Quah, 1992;
1998b). For a comprehensive analysis of the impact of HIV/AIDS on children see
Cornia (2002).

5. The impact of globalization

The four preceding sections have suggested the pervasive influence of socioeconomic
development upon the family and the wide variation in socioeconomic development
among Asian countries. This final section demonstrates those trends and focus on
two particularly problematic aspects of family relations linked to the country's level
of socioeconomic development. These two aspects are female labour force
participation and child labour.

5.1. Overview of socio-economic variations across Asian countries

Not surprisingly, the situation of Asian countries show the same close link between
the process of urbanization and industrialization found in other world regions.
However, while the process of urbanization has increased over the past decade, the
differences across countries remain (Graph 25). As a global city-state, Singapore is
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 29

fundamentally an urban metropolis like Hong Kong (now China's Special


Administrative Region). Japan and Korea follow in the proportion of urban population.
All four are at a significantly higher level of socioeconomic development than the rest.
The other six countries (China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and
Vietnam) have large rural hinterlands, lower level of industrialization, and a
considerable proportion of their populations living in rural areas. These sharp
differences in socioeconomic development and urban-rural populations create
different kinds of problems and different types of constraints, and assets for
governments, families and individuals. Advice to governments on ways of assisting
families in need and strengthening the family unit must be designed for each country
specifically.

5.2. Female labour force participation

The upward trend of female economic activity rates in Graph 26 shows that holding a
paid job has become if not a social norm for women, at least a 'normal' thing for
women to do in all Asian countries. It is imperative to avoid the fallacy of
interpreting these upward trends as an indication that women only recently began
contributing to the economic support of their families. The figures on female labour
force participation and economic activity are based only on paid work. But women
have been important contributors to the family economy for centuries mostly in
crafts and agricultural work that typically goes unrecorded because they do not earn
'wages' (Quah, 1998:144-175). Some countries have begun recording data on
'unpaid family workers' but the definition of this category and corresponding data
collection system requires improvement.

The increasing participation of women in the labour force everywhere is prompted by


various factors including higher levels of education and skills-training. Women now
tend to continue to work after marriage and/or childbirth, although this is occurring
in greater proportions in the most developed countries in the region (Singapore,
Hong Kong, Japan, Korea) but the figures suggest higher women's participation in
the labour force will become a general trend throughout Asia. The consequences of
Asian women's paid labour for the family are mostly in terms of socially assigned
traditional gender roles that are difficult to overcome. The mother is still seen as the
most 'suitable' parent to take care of children and to manage the home. The
contradictory situation of better educational and economic opportunities for women
not keeping pace with the change in traditional social values, leads to strains within
the family including marital conflict and problems of child care and child supervision.
Governments are lethargic in providing the necessary facilities and job arrangement
guidelines (for example, job sharing, flexible working hours, adequate parental leave,
tax incentives) to enable working parents to fulfill their family obligations and to
encourage co-parenting between husband and wife. The very small proportion of
women holding seats in parliament throughout Asia helps to maintain the status quo.
The highest percentage of parliament seats occupied by women in 2001 was 26% in
Vietnam. China follows with 22%. Malaysia has 10%; Thailand 9%; Japan and
Singapore 7%; Korea 6%. No information was available for Philippines, Indonesia
and Hong Kong (United Nations Statistics Division, 2002a).

5.3. Child labour

Two perspectives of the situation of child labour in the ten Asian countries are
presented in Graphs 27 and 28. The first perspective is that child labour is a sequel
of underdevelopment and poverty. This is indicated by the strong inverse association
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 30

between Human Development Index scores and the proportion of children 10-14 in
the labour force (Pearson r = -.793, p =.011) in Graph 27. In his analysis of child
labour in the Philippines, an International Labour Office expert argues that the
problem aggravates when there is an economic downturn as youngsters are pressed
to drop out of school and find a job. He rightly points out that the available figures
on child labour in Asia might not capture the entire situation as a large part of child
labour is found in the informal sector (Lim, 2000) which is difficult to ascertain.

The second perspective is suggested by the close link (Pearson r = .699. p =.036)
between the proportion of children in the labour force and the percentage of women
in the labour force who are self-employed (Graph 28). Thailand, Indonesia and the
Philippines have the highest proportion of children in the labour force and working
women who are self-employed. These are countries with very low economic
development. A self-employed mother in these countries may be a single parent and
typically scraps a living in the informal economy or runs a small business with few or
no employees. It is not unusual that some of her children assist with the business
full-time or get a job to boost the meager family budget.

6. On family policy

To conclude this analysis it is pertinent to address the issue of State intervention.


Although the situation of each country is different, some basic principles apply to all.
The preceding macro-level analysis of family trends and socioeconomic development
begs the question: Can and should the government assist families? Three concepts I
discussed elsewhere (Quah, 1998:247-270) are relevant to answer that question. The
first one is the concept of social policy defined as "the cluster of overall decisions
relevant to the achievement of [society's] goals" (Kahn, 1969:131). When those
decisions and goals involve the family, the following three assumptions are implied: (a)
that the country has explicit and defined social goals concerning its families; (b) that as
these goals are based on relatively clear and shared values on the type of family or
families the country wants to maintain or encourage, family policy refers to plans of
action formulated to reflect those social values and to attain those social goals; and (c)
that family policy thus defined will provide the necessary conditions for the well-being
of all families. In addition to these three assumptions, a further clarification is in order:
Family policy is not social engineering. On the contrary, within a democratic system of
government, family policy establishes "an opportunity structure which makes certain
that society does not interfere or restrain the family's efforts to meet its collective
needs" (Tallman, 1979:470).

The doubts of some observers on the contributions of family policy are often countered
by the views of people who support the formulation of family policies. I propose that we
consider seriously the following five basic issues on the feasibility and desirability of
family policy, derived from the current expert discussion: (a) most countries have a
multiplicity of family forms and family life patterns; (b) social policy is limited in what it
can do to help families; (c) there is always the possibility of abuse of policies and thus
there is a need for a system of checks and balances; (d) there is a high likelihood of
negative unforeseen consequences of policies and thus it is imperative to exercise
caution in policy planning and implementation; and (e) there are some types of family
problems of such magnitude or nature that State intervention may be the only
alternative. The search for a satisfactory balance between the public and private
spheres of life to accomplish job and family commitments is one of these problems.
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 31

Consequently, in recognition of these issues and based on the social policy experiences
of developed countries, a family policy agenda may be drawn comprising the following
objectives: (1) to provide the socio-economic conditions required for the strengthening
of family life and to help families in need; (2) to curtail excessive State intervention; (3)
to discourage citizens' over-dependence on the State; and (4) to encourage the
participation of kinship, community, and other informal support networks in the
provision of moral, social, material and other forms of help to families in need (Quah,
1998:249-250).

Bibliography
Asahi Shimbun (2003) Japan Almanac 2003. Tokyo: Asahi Shimbun.
Asian Development Bank (2000) Key Indicators of Developing Asian and Pacific
Countries. Manila: Asian Development Bank and Oxford University Press.
Biro Pusat Statistik [BPS] (2002) 2000 Population Census. Jakarta: BPS Statistics
Indonesia. Website: http://www.bps.go.id/sector/population.
Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (2000) 1998 Yearbook of Labor Statistics.
Manila: BLES.
Cornia, G.A. (2002) AIDS, Public Policy and Child Well-being. Geneva: UNICEF.
Available at http://www.unicef-icdc.org/research/ESP/aids/aids_index.html
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP] (2001) Asia-Pacific
in Figures 2001. Bangkok: ESCAP
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP] (2002) Statistical
Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2001. New York: United Nations.
Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (2002) 2001 Population Census. Hong
Kong: CSD. Website: http://www.info.gov.hk/censtatd/eng/hkstat.
International Labour Office (2001) Yearbook of Labour Statistics. 60th Ed. Geneva:
ILO
International Labour Office (2002) Economically Active Population. Website:
http://laborsta.ilo.org/cgi-bin/
Kahn, A.J. (1969) Theory and Practice in Social Planning. New York: Russell Sage.
Korea National Statistics Office (2002) 2000 Population & Housing Census Report..
Summary Report. Seoul: NSO. Website: http://www.nso.go.kr/eng/
Lau, K.E. (1992) Singapore Census of Population 1990. Statistical Release 1.
Demographic Characteristics. Singapore: Department of Statistics.
Leow, B.G. (2001) Census of Population 2000. Demographic Characteristics.
Statistical Release 1. Singapore: Singapore Department of Statistics.
Lim, J.Y. (2000) The East Asian Crisis and Child Labour in the Philippines. ILO/IPEC
Working Paper. Geneva: ILO. This paper is available at the ILO website:
http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/policy/papers
Medina, B.T.G. (1991) The Filipino Family. A Text with Selected Readings. Diliman,
Philippines: University of the Philippines Press.
National Bureau of Statistics of the People's Republic of China (2001) Communique
on Major Figures of the 2000 Population Census (no. 1). Beijing: NBS-PRC.
Website: http://www.stas.gov.cn/english/
National Statistics Coordinating Board (2001) 2001 Philippine Statistical Yearbook.
Manila: NSCB.
Quah, S.R. (1992) "AIDS and us: Are we failing to prevent a highly preventable
disease?", Singapore Medical Journal, 33, 484-488.
Quah, S.R. (1993a) "The Socioeconomic Milieu of Scholarship: A Comparative
Analysis of Family Sociologists in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore
Final Report - Main Family Trends in East and Southeast Asia -- Quah -- Page 32

and Thailand." In S.R. (Ed.), Asian Sociologists at Work. Current Sociology, Vol.
41. London: Sage, pp. 69-94.
Quah, S.R. (1993b) "Studies on the Family in Southeast Asia Written in English,
1950-1989." In S.R. (Ed.), Asian Sociologists at Work. Current Sociology, Vol.
41. London: Sage, pp. 107-125.
Quah, S.R. (1997) "Values and Development in Asia. A Historical Illustration of the
Role of the State," International Sociology, Vol. 12, No. 3, 295-328.
Quah, S.R. (1998a) Family in Singapore. Sociological Perspectives. 2nd Edition.
Singapore: Times Academic Press.
Quah, S.R. (1998b) "Ethnicity, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Public Health Education,"
International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 18, 1-26.
Statistics Bureau / Statistical Research and Training Institute (2001) Japan Statistical
Yearbook 2002. Tokyo: Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and
Telecommunications.
Tallman, I. (1979) "Implementation of a national family policy: The role of the social
scientist," Journal of Marriage and the Family, 41, 3, 469-472.
Thailand National Statistics Office (1991) 1990 Population & Housing Census.
Bangkok: TNSO. Website: http://www.nso.go.th/pop2000/prelim_e.htm
Thailand National Statistics Office (2002a) Statistical Yearbook N.48 - 2001. Bangkok:
TNSO
Thailand National Statistics Office (2002b) Report of the Labor Force Survey.
December 2001. Bangkok: TNSO
The Economist (2003) World in Figures 2003 Edition. London: The Economist.
United Nations (1992) 1990 Demographic Yearbook. New York: UN.
United Nations (1994) 1992 Demographic Yearbook. New York: UN.
United Nations (1996) 1994 Demographic Yearbook. New York: UN.
United Nations (1999) World Population Prospects. The 1998 Revision - Vol. 1:
Comprehensive Tables. New York: United Nations.
United Nations (2000a) Statistical Yearbook 1997. New York: UN.
United Nations (2000b) Global Population Policy Database, 1999. New York: United
Nations.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2001) World Public Sector
Report. Globalization and the State 2001. New York: UN-DESA.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2002) World Population
Ageing 1950-2050. New York: UN-DESA, Population Division.
United Nations Development Programme (1990) Human Development Report 1990.
New York: Oxford University Press.
United Nations Statistics Division (2002a) The World's Women 2000: Trends &
Statistics. New York: UN
United Nations Statistics Division (2002b) United Nations Statistics Division Common
Database. New York: UN CDB. Website: http://unstats.un.org./unsd/cdb/
UNAIDS/WHO Working Group on Global HIV/AIDS and SIT Surveillance (2002)
Epidemiological Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections.
2002 Update. Geneva: WHO.
World Bank (2000) East Asia. Recovery and Beyond. Washington DC: The World
Bank.
World Bank (2001) World Development Indicators. Washington DC: World Bank.
World Bank (2002) Building Institutions and Markets. World Development Report
2002. Washington DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press.
World Health Organization (2002) Women's Health in Southeast Asia. Geneva: WHO
website: http://w3.whosea.org/women2/