Age at marriage is rising almost everywhere in Asia. Throughout East and Southeast Asia parental involvement in or control over choice of spouse is weakening and divorce rates are rising, paralleling rising incomes and education. This appears to provide support for 'convergence' theories of family change. However, elements of family systems differ markedly in different regions of Asia and these differences seem unlikely to disappear. Moreover, recent data from Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam show a decline in age at marriage despite ongoing socioeconomic development. What are the implications?
Gavin Jones is Director of the JY Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He has been at NUS for 11 years, following 28 years at the Australian National University and before that, with the Population Council. He has researched widely throughout Southeast and East Asia, on demographic, developmental and policy issues.