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Trends in female and male age at marriage and celibacy in Asia

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Publication Date: January 1992

Publisher(s): East-West Center

Author(s): Peter Xenos; Socorro A. Gultiano

Series: East-West Center. Program on Population. Paper ; no. 120

Topic: Social conditions (Marriage and family life)

Type: Report

Coverage: Asia


This paper examines trends across Asia in the female and male mean ages at entrance to marriage. The female singulate mean age at marriage (SMAM) has been the object of considerable attention, while the male age at marriage has not. We show that with few exceptions the long-term trend to later female marriage continued into the 1980s and in many countries has produced quite high percentages of singles among the young. With the exceptions noted, there is no indication that the trend has abated. Trends for males are in sharp contrast. There has been less change and the pace of change has been slower. In fact, the underlying components of change have been different for females and males. The essential difference is that female ages at marriage have become more diverse, while there has been a homogenization of male marriage ages. A research agenda is offered stressing examination of differences among countries and between the sexes and how these differences reflect the disparate trends in economic growth that have been experienced.