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27 April 2012

The disappearing Japanese

Japan has discovered a different path towards unsustainable indebtedness – demographic implosion. Business Insider sets out the jaw-dropping facts:

  • Japan has 127 million people today. By 2040, it will be 106 million, a decline of 20 percent. By 2040, the working age population will shrink from 81 million to 57 million, a decline of 30 percent. In 2008, barely 40 percent as many Japanese babies were born as in 1948… On the current projections, by 2040, there will be almost as many Japanese people over 100 years old as there are newborns.”

What could be driving this precipitous decline? The answer is a collapse in marriage:

  • “Though the number of men and women between the ages of 20 and 50 was roughly the same in 2010 and 1970, about 10 million fewer were married in 2010. Nowadays, the odds of being married are barely even within this key demographic group. And marriage is the only real path to parenthood. Unwed motherhood remains, so to speak, inconceivable because of the enduring disgrace conferred by out-of-wedlock births. In effect, the Japanese have embraced voluntary mass childlessness.”

It is worth noting that the Japanese ratio of gross public debt to gross domestic product is already well over 200 percent:

  • “…the public sector will have to take larger and larger shares of their income to support the Japan's aged population. That means fewer resources for forming and building families. Subsequently, all of the above trends may actually accelerate and worsen.”


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