Japan to stop labeling people unmarried at 50 as 'lifelong singles'
Japan Today -- May 24
The government will no longer use the term "lifelong singles" as a label for people who have not married by age 50, deeming the term inaccurate as Japanese are increasingly tying the knot later in life, officials said Thursday.

The label has been used in annual white papers and statistics on the grounds that the fertility rate of women falls significantly when they enter their 50s.

But its use, which is believed to have begun some 30 years ago, has been criticized due to it implying that marriage and parenthood are inextricably linked and because it suggests people do not marry after 50.

The government has already removed the descriptor from some white papers in response to the evolving definition of the family. However, the percentage of "lifelong singles" will continue to be included in demographic forecasts and other statistics as it serves as a key indicator, with the data categorized simply as referring to "people unmarried by 50," they said.

The data on the percentage of singles at age 50 is released by a health ministry research institute in conjunction with the national population census conducted every five years. The data does not include those who divorced or were made single by the death of a spouse.

In 1985, under 5 percent of men and women were classed as unmarried before 50, but the figure eclipsed 10 percent for men in 2000 and rose above 20 percent for men and 10 percent for women in 2010.

News source: Japan Today
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