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culture, and agency

where creative culture-building takes place in

the context of external social and economic forces as well as

immigrants’ pre-migration cultural frameworks” (961). Moreover,

the convenience of international transportation and communication

technology facilitate social diffusion of values and ideas so that

traditional attitudes toward union formation from the homeland

are maintained. They are as important as those learned in the new

society in understanding immigrants’ behaviors and adaptations in

America. Thus, regional variations in socioeconomic development

and phases of demographic transition in Asia offer valuable points

of reference for conceptualizing how members of different Asian

ethnic groups decide when and how to engage in family-building in

their new homes.

Although East Asian countries share a Confucian heritage that

emphasizes the centrality of family, dramatic demographic changes

have been witnessed in the past few decades in all advanced

economies: declining first marriage rates, rising prevalence of

cohabitation, and plummeting fertility levels (Jones, Straughan, &

Chan, 2009; Lesthaeghe, 2010). Men and women are postponing

marriages and many entirely forego matrimony. The extent to

which the dramatic decline in marriage rates in East Asia is offset by

more cohabitation is generally quite difficult to estimate, though

scholars have found a rising trend toward greater acceptance and

practice of co-residential unions in Japan and Taiwan (Lesthaeghe,

2010; Raymo, Iwasawa, & Bumpass, 2009). The percentages of

Japanese men and women reported as having ever cohabited

indicate an increase from about 10% among the 1960-64 cohorts,

to about 21% for the 1975-79 cohorts (Raymo et al., 2009). The

percentage of Taiwanese women aged 20 to 49 who reported

having ever cohabited also shows a leap from about 11% to 20%

between the 1998 and 2004 Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices

(KAP) surveys (Lesthaeghe, 2010). Estimates for the prevalence of

cohabitation in other East Asian countries, such as Singapore and

South Korea, are not available.