The Economist: Asia’s lonely hearts 亚洲的寂寞芳心

亚洲女性拒绝婚姻的社会影响十分严峻
Women are rejecting marriage in Asia. The social implications are serious

原文: Asia’s lonely hearts
翻译: wamzhiyi

二十年前, 一场关于是否存在特定的“亚洲价值观”的辩论爆发了。所有的焦点聚落在当权者含糊不清的反民主的论调上。一个不太为人关注, 但是却更加引人思索的话题则是: 强于欧美的亚洲传统家庭观念是造成亚洲经济奇迹的原因之一。用新加坡前总理、亚洲传统模式倡导者李光耀的话来说, 中国人的家庭鼓励”勤俭求知, 先苦后甜”的价值观。

TWENTY years ago a debate erupted about whether there were specific “Asian values”. Most attention focused on dubious claims by autocrats that democracy was not among them. But a more intriguing, if less noticed, argument was that traditional family values were stronger in Asia than in America and Europe, and that this partly accounted for Asia’s economic success. In the words of Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore and a keen advocate of Asian values, the Chinese family encouraged “scholarship and hard work and thrift and deferment of present enjoyment for future gain”.

基本上, 他的观点仍是有说服力的。在亚洲大部分地区, 合法的婚姻仍是主流, 私生等不法行为鲜有发生。与此相反, 西方的婚姻有一半以离婚收场, 而大半的儿童是私生子女。很多人认为, 家教的缺失或是对子女关怀的不足, 是英国最近殃及全国的骚乱之根源, 这个事例彷佛更加说明了东西方文化的严重差异性。

On the face of it his claim appears persuasive still. In most of Asia, marriage is widespread and illegitimacy almost unknown. In contrast, half of marriages in some Western countries end in divorce, and half of all children are born outside wedlock. The recent riots across Britain, whose origins many believe lie in an absence of either parental guidance or filial respect, seem to underline a profound difference between East and West.

然而婚姻状况无论在东亚、南亚, 还是东南亚, 都变化得很快, 即使他们各自都有不同的传统习俗。这些变化跟西方在20世纪下半叶发生的是不同的。离婚率, 尽管在某些国家有所上升, 但仍然是相对较低的。亚洲正在发生的, 是一场婚姻的大逃亡。

Yet marriage is changing fast in East, South-East and South Asia, even though each region has different traditions. The changes are different from those that took place in the West in the second half of the 20th century. Divorce, though rising in some countries, remains comparatively rare. What’s happening in Asia is a flight from marriage (see article).

成婚率正在下降, 部分原因是因为人们推迟结婚。世界各地的结婚年龄都在上升, 而亚洲尤为明显, 现在那里的人们结婚甚至比西方的还要晚。在过去数十年, 日本、 台湾、 韩国和香港这些富有的国家和地区的平均结婚年龄大幅上升——女性为29 -30岁, 男姓为31-33岁。

Marriage rates are falling partly because people are postponing getting hitched. Marriage ages have risen all over the world, but the increase is particularly marked in Asia. People there now marry even later than they do in the West. The mean age of marriage in the richest places—Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong—has risen sharply in the past few decades, to reach 29-30 for women and 31-33 for men.

其实, 很多亚洲人不是晚婚, 而是根本不婚。近三分之一的日本妇女在30出头时仍未婚, 其中大概一半的人将永远不婚。超过五分之一的接近40岁的台湾女性是单身的, 她们大部分将永远不会结婚。在一些地方, 未婚率更为惊人: 在曼谷, 有20%的40-44岁的年长女性是未婚的;在东京, 那是21%;在新加坡, 拥有本科学历的那个年纪的女性, 有27%未婚。到目前为止, 这一趋势并未影响到亚洲的两个巨人——中国和印度。但是, 像会流动的经济因素一样, 这种趋势也有可能在这两个国家蔓延开去。而且, 它的后果会因为性别选择堕胎的存在而殃及整整一代人。到了2050年, 中国和印度的适婚男性将会比女性多6千万。

A lot of Asians are not marrying later. They are not marrying at all. Almost a third of Japanese women in their early 30s are unmarried; probably half of those will always be. Over one-fifth of Taiwanese women in their late 30s are single; most will never marry. In some places, rates of non-marriage are especially striking: in Bangkok, 20% of 40-44-year old women are not married; in Tokyo, 21%; among university graduates of that age in Singapore, 27%. So far, the trend has not affected Asia’s two giants, China and India. But it is likely to, as the economic factors that have driven it elsewhere in Asia sweep through those two countries as well; and its consequences will be exacerbated by the sex-selective abortion practised for a generation there. By 2050, there will be 60m more men of marriageable age than women in China and India.

单身快乐 The joy of staying single

对于女性来说, 婚姻和事业, 二者不可得兼。因为在亚洲, 让一个女人同时兼顾事业和家庭是艰难的。妇女主要负责照顾丈夫, 孩子, 并且经常地, 包括年迈的父母;甚至是在担任全职工作时, 仍被要求承担这样的责任。虽然在世界其他地方也一样, 但亚洲妇女的担子却是特别重的。日本妇女通常在办公室每周工作40 小时, 然后平均, 再花30小时做家务。而她们的丈夫, 平均来说, 却只做三个小时。为照顾孩子而放弃工作的亚洲妇女发现, 当她们青春不再的时候要返回职场是一件十分困难的事情。于是, 亚洲妇女认为婚姻是坟墓的看法就在情理之中了。今年进行的调查显示, 对婚姻持正面态度的人中, 比起日本男性或美国女性、男性, 日本女性可谓少之又少。

Women are retreating from marriage as they go into the workplace. That’s partly because, for a woman, being both employed and married is tough in Asia. Women there are the primary caregivers for husbands, children and, often, for ageing parents; and even when in full-time employment, they are expected to continue to play this role. This is true elsewhere in the world, but the burden that Asian women carry is particularly heavy. Japanese women, who typically work 40 hours a week in the office, then do, on average, another 30 hours of housework. Their husbands, on average, do three hours. And Asian women who give up work to look after children find it hard to return when the offspring are grown. Not surprisingly, Asian women have an unusually pessimistic view of marriage. According to a survey carried out this year, many fewer Japanese women felt positive about their marriage than did Japanese men, or American women or men.

就业让妇女的婚姻变得更艰难的同时, 也为她们提供了另一种选择。越来越多的妇女经济独立, 所以她们中更多的人可以追求更写意的单身生活, 而不是委身于当传统婚姻的苦工。教育的发展使得成婚率下降, 因为接受最多教育的亚洲女性一直是最不愿意结婚的— — 因此现在会有更多高学历的”剩女”。

At the same time as employment makes marriage tougher for women, it offers them an alternative. More women are financially independent, so more of them can pursue a single life that may appeal more than the drudgery of a traditional marriage. More education has also contributed to the decline of marriage, because Asian women with the most education have always been the most reluctant to wed—and there are now many more highly educated women.

不婚, 无后 No marriage, no babies

现代女性享受着越来越大的自由是亚洲婚姻变革的原因, 这是值得欣慰的。但它也造成了社会问题。与西方国家相比, 亚洲国家在基于家庭是照顾年迈或者患病成员的主体之假设上, 对退休金和其他形式的社会保障投入更少。但是, 那不能再被视为理所当然的了。成婚率的下降也造成了出生率的锐减。生育率在东亚地区的骤变从20世纪60年代末的妇女与儿童之比成1:5.3下降到现在的1:1.6。成婚率最低的国家, 其生育率居然接近1.0。一旦人口开始迅速老化, 这就会开始演变成巨大的人口危机。其他的不太明显的问题也存在着。婚姻使男人社会化: 因为较低水平的睾酮素和较少的犯罪行为是密切相关的。日渐趋少的婚姻可能意味着日益增多的违法犯罪。

The flight from marriage in Asia is thus the result of the greater freedom that women enjoy these days, which is to be celebrated. But it is also creating social problems. Compared with the West, Asian countries have invested less in pensions and other forms of social protection, on the assumption that the family will look after ageing or ill relatives. That can no longer be taken for granted. The decline of marriage is also contributing to the collapse in the birth rate. Fertility in East Asia has fallen from 5.3 children per woman in the late 1960s to 1.6 now. In countries with the lowest marriage rates, the fertility rate is nearer 1.0. That is beginning to cause huge demographic problems, as populations age with startling speed. And there are other, less obvious issues. Marriage socialises men: it is associated with lower levels of testosterone and less criminal behaviour. Less marriage might mean more crime.

亚洲式的婚姻能复兴吗? 如果两性对各自角色的期望有所改变了, 或者可以;但是, 江山易改, 秉性难易。政府不能通过立法改变大众的观念, 但是他们可以, 提倡改变。矛盾的是, 放宽离婚的法律规制可能反而会促进婚姻。如果那些不婚的妇女知道离婚再也不是难事, 那么她们可能会更愿意喜结良缘——不仅仅是因为她们一旦发觉婚姻失败后可以轻易地转身, 而且还因为她们拥有的离开的自由可能会使她们的丈夫乖乖地拜倒在自己的石榴裙下。婚姻法在分割夫妻共同财产时应更慷慨地向离婚后的妇女倾斜。各国政府也应通过立法使得雇主有义务保障男女方的产假权利, 并提供或资助育儿费用。如果这样的财政支出能够帮助提升家庭生活的水平, 那么它可能也会减轻国家照顾老人的负担。

Can marriage be revived in Asia? Maybe, if expectations of those roles of both sexes change; but shifting traditional attitudes is hard. Governments cannot legislate away popular prejudices. They can, though, encourage change. Relaxing divorce laws might, paradoxically, boost marriage. Women who now steer clear of wedlock might be more willing to tie the knot if they know it can be untied—not just because they can get out of the marriage if it doesn’t work, but also because their freedom to leave might keep their husbands on their toes. Family law should give divorced women a more generous share of the couple’s assets. Governments should also legislate to get employers to offer both maternal and paternal leave, and provide or subsidise child care. If taking on such expenses helped promote family life, it might reduce the burden on the state of looking after the old.

亚洲国家的政府早就已经把他们的家庭生活模式认作是他们优于西方的巨大优势。但是, 这种自信已经不再充分了。他们必须反省, 认清在他们国家中所发生的巨大的社会变化, 以及思考如何应对那些后果。

Asian governments have long taken the view that the superiority of their family life was one of their big advantages over the West. That confidence is no longer warranted. They need to wake up to the huge social changes happening in their countries and think about how to cope with the consequences.


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