Friday, July 28, 2006

TCS on Japan's demographic shift

Tech Central Station's has a great article on the greying of Japan's population. From Greying Temples:
...Recent figures indicate that Japan's population contracted for the first time last year and the number of senior citizens now stands at over 20 percent of the population. This makes the percentage of seniors in Japan the highest of any country in the world. Also, unlike projections for the US, Japan's total population is expected to continue falling until the year 2020 (and likely beyond). At that point one in four Japanese citizens will be aged 65 or over.

These statistics are worrying for Japanese policymakers. After the burst of its 'Bubble Economy' and subsequent recession, Japan has only recently begun pulling itself up. Yet the forthcoming retirement (Japan's mandatory retirement age of 60 is one point being reconsidered) of so many workers along with the accompanying health care and pensions costs could cripple an already fragile economy if serious steps are not taken.

Yet the challenges don't end with greying. Japan also faces declining birth rates. It seems that women are now only having an average of 1.25 children each (far below the 2.25 children needed to keep the population growing), and Japan is currently the least fertile country in the world. In fact, its birth rate is only two thirds that of the United States'. As a result, by 2020, Japan's workforce is heading for the most severely depleted numbers of any industrialised nation, leading to a contracting tax base, labor shortages, and stress on public services...


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