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Recent Social and Political Changes in East Asia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyses and touches on a few new social phenomena in East Asia such as declining numbers of children and the aging of the labor force. It examines how gender issues are officially discussed in North Korea and China. Economic factors can be considered the main cause of declining birth rates, which dropped in many Asian countries in the wake of the Asian economic crisis of 1997 and 1998. Worsening economic conditions have also contributed to an increasing destabilization of marriages - and a dramatic increase in divorce rates, as measured by the ratio of divorces to marriages. To avoid severe labor shortages as their populations age, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan will have three possible options, either singly or combined: (1) aggressively make use of women's labor, (2) raise the rate of employment among seniors, and (3) utilize immigrant labor.

Keywords:declining birth rates; destabilization of marriages; East Asia; employment patterns; senior citizens; women's labor



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