The new Asian family
- East Asian governments must try to manage a momentous social change they cannot prevent
The concept of “Asian values", once championed by leaders across the region, went out of vogue after the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The idea that East and South-East Asia’s disciplined governments had a unique economic edge over the decadent West suddenly seemed less compelling. Today in prosperous East Asia a different facet of those ballyhooed values is looking even more parlous. In China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Asians’ supposed commitment to conservative family life is collapsing. As we report in our Asia and China sections this week, millions of young people are opting for looser, often lonelier and—in the East Asian context—less male-dominated arrangements. In a region that is home to over a fifth of humanity, the socioeconomic and demographic consequences will be vast, potentially destabilising and will shape millions of lives.