As a Japanese-American guy who plans on doing a lot of reproducing in his lifetime (ladies?) I think a lot about Japanese population decline. Which is why I decided to write a series of essays that specifically discuss this issue. Japan's population decline is the most pertinent issue facing the country. According to the Economist:
Japan's birth rate fell below the replacement rate of 2.1 in the early 1970s. It slid to a low of 1.26 in 2005, before inching up last year to 1.32—nobody calls it a recovery. In 2005 Japan's population began to fall in absolute terms, despite increasing life expectancy. It is about to shrink at a pace unprecedented for any nation in peacetime. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimates a total population of 95m by 2050, with the elderly accounting by then for two-fifths of the total.
The implications to Japanese society are enormous. From a purely conceptual level the Solow growth model predicts a decline in national GDP directly proportional to the decline in population. For more concrete consequences one need only look at rising per-capita healthcare costs and the imminent social security meltdown. Specifically I'd like to address:
- What is causing it?
- What can be done?
To be continued...