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Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops 283

First time accepted submitter Cornelie Roe (3627609) writes in with some bad news about the population of Japan. "The number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low, while the amount of people over 65 has reached a record high as the population ages and shrinks, the government said. There were an estimated 16.33 million children aged under 15 as of 1 April, down 160,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs and communications ministry said on Sunday. It was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950. Children accounted for 12.8% of the population, the ministry said. By contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high, making up 25.6% of the population. Jiji Press said that, of countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China. Last month, the government said the number of people in the world's third largest economy dropped by 0.17% to 127,298,000 as of 1 October 2013. This includes long-staying foreigners. The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40% in 2060, the government has warned."
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Percentage of Elderly In Japan Continues to Grow as Number of Children Drops

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  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:37AM (#46972463) Homepage

    This may sound crass, but this is a problem that'll solve itself in a couple of decades, after which you'll have a much lower population on the island, which given the lack of space (especially in large cities) is probably a good thing.

    There are way too many people on the planet in general. Breeding more is NOT the answer. Do the best we can to take care of our elders, and when they're gone, let's be more responsible about population growth going forward.

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:40AM (#46972493) Homepage

    I would imagine that Japan's cities will stay as crowded as ever for a long time. As the population in the countryside thins out and becomes greyer, what young people there are will flock to the cities for better opportunities. So, you'll have densely populated cities and an increasingly empty rest of the country.

    Look at Russia where the population has fallen significantly, but Moscow just keeps growing. If you visit the hopeless backwaters, all the young people there dream of leaving their collapsing communities for the big city.

  • Re:Good For Them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fizzer06 ( 1500649 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:44AM (#46972519)
    Japan is not a city.
  • by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:45AM (#46972529)

    Economic policies based on an ever growing population are failed policies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:51AM (#46972575)

    This is not a problem at all. This is an indicator that Japan is moving even further into the Post-Industrial stage of their country's development. They are effectively controling their population growth, the rest of the world would do well to follow their example.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:11AM (#46972697)

    What happens when you don't have enough young people to sustain the program the old people depend on?

    Improve productivity through the use of automation, robotics, and AI, while simultaneously reducing resource consumption through the use of advanced composite materials and intelligent sensors. Progress happens. It is silly to extrapolate demography while assuming everything else will stay the same.

  • Two, One, or None (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scot Seese ( 137975 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:40PM (#46973633)

    - Children. Title solves global population problems. Two children to replace two parents, with the odd accident or illness to either parents or children statistically causing slow population shrink.

    Japanese families tend to be fairly careful with money, and as a result - as used to be the case with many WW2 generation elderly Americans - are sitting on piles of assets. What will occur is simply the balloon "inflate / deflate" effect. You work your entire life to amass savings and assets, you become elderly and require medical care or living assistance, and the balloon begins to deflate.

    So, good news, unemployed Japanese youth - Head off to city college and pick up that 2 year nursing assistant certification or complete a 4 year degree in anything medically relevant, and their deflating balloon will inflate yours.

    (Joke) you can just fast forward about 100 years, when the entire Western world will just be a giant medical service economy with only 3 types of entities: Elderly, people providing medical or living assistance to elderly, and semi sentient robots doing everything else.

    As the Dalai Lama once said, paraphrased, "People in their youth spend their health pursuing money only to become elderly and spend their money pursuing health."

  • Re:Jiji press? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @02:26PM (#46973873) Journal

    Where I grew up, "old enough to be a grandfather" meant "30". Now my friends are having their first kids around 40.

    Something pretty basic is broken with work-family balance IMO. It's great that we left "one parent works, the other does family" behind, but "both parents work, and neither does family" is even worse. As automation increases, and unemployment with it, you'd think we could move to shorter work weeks and "both parents work, and have plenty of time for family too"!

    It's far easier medically to have kids in your 20s, and far easier to cope with their teenage years in your 30s than your 50s! Society needs to be built on more than just career, and I think we're getting it completely backwards with the ongoing division between workaholics and government-dependents.

  • by Phil Urich ( 841393 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:19PM (#46975181) Journal

    More over it takes time to assimilate. At first you feel like an outsider, but having lived in Japan for a while I'd say I'm not pretty well integrated. It's hard to explain but now I think and act that way I find foreigners stick out like a sore thumb as well. They often talk too loudly, or just position themselves awkwardly or ask un-subtle questions. Once you settle in though somehow Japanese people can just tell (and now so can I), and treat you without prejudice.

    But . . . isn't that the entire problem, that they're prejudiced against anyone who doesn't talk and act exactly "correctly"? I think pretty much by definition people aren't prejudiced against people who are like themselves. Once you adopt every social convention and mannerism they no longer act so xenophobic towards you? That's not something to boast about, and you aren't really convincing anyone that the Japanese are tolerant of differences if it takes skillful, concerted effort in concealing and obliterating those differences before they're tolerant of you.

    Personally I find the idea of everyone having to adopt specific thoughts and actions lest they be judged to be horrifying (and the same reason I often feel quite uncomfortable in small towns in North America). And one of the things I will definitely judge a culture for is its intolerance of differences (see, again, small town North America).

  • Re:Jiji press? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vivian ( 156520 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:39PM (#46975289)

    I think perhaps when we get down to the last billion or so people we can start talking about extinction then. In the meantime, what we really need to do is figure how to build an economy that does not depend on perpetual growth forever - which in turn depends on an ever growing population and ever increasing resource availability.
    We need to be able to reach a stable equilibrium, or at least a dynamically stable system where the highs and lows are not too great.
    Part of that is keeping people employable past the age of 65, if we want to enjoy longer lives, and not declaring anyone over 50 as unemployable.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant