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Japan’s Earthquake and the Politics of Demography

May 9th, 2011

So much for the over -population groupies.

by Marcus Roberts

Back in 2009, the leadership in Japan realised that there it was facing a massive demographic problem. This problem was not rampant population growth, but the opposite – declining fertility and a growing elderly population. According to The Washington Post:

“In 2009, just 13.3 percent of Japan’s population was 14 or younger — the lowest percentage ever registered by a country. By 2030, according to government estimates, one in every three people in Japan will be 65 or older. One in 10 will be 14 or younger.”

This problem was only going to get worse as time went on because of Japan’s birthrate of 1.37 children per woman – one of the lowest in the world and well below the replacement rate of around 2.1.

To combat this, the new ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, came up with ways to combat this:

“The plan was simple: Couples who procreated would get cash — a payment every month during a child’s first 15 years….At the time of the March 11 earthquake, the government was paying families roughly $155 every month, per child, until that child completed junior high school. This year, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had been pushing for an increase in payments, with a view toward eventually doubling them.”

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  1. nerdygirl
    May 10th, 2011 at 08:21 | #1

    Enh. I mean, you can’t exactly get mad that people consider their financial and cost of living situations when planning a family. Urban settings in Japan are/were fairly overcrowded. And given that in Japan, a good education is necessary for economic security (good high school and high test scores on national exams and university entrance exams), it does get quite expensive, many families not only pay the school tuition but also a fairly pricey cram school fee for after school studying.

    If you want to stop declining birth rates in technologically developed countries, you have to encourage that. While it’s easy to assume that people aren’t having kids because they’re selfish and don’t want to change their lifestyle, you have to keep in mind that many people worried about the life they can provide for their kids. Most of us younger peeps want to give our children a better life then we had, but hey, economy sucks, it’s really hard to find a decent paying job right now. Would having a child with massive student loan debt and hardly any savings be good for me or the child? No. Would having a child with a mortgage, student loans and barely breaking even at the end of the month be a good idea? It’s not how do we get people to breed more, but how do we make raising a family *doable* financially.

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