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(BBC)   Government report says Japan's population will shrink by one third by 2060, which is shocking considering how short they already are now   (bbc.co.uk) divider line 94
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3425 clicks; posted to Main » on 31 Jan 2012 at 12:58 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-01-31 02:21:09 PM

dragonchild: Sybarite: There are going to be massive public finance problems as the country has too many non-working elderly and too few working people to support them.

This is an outdated outlook, and it's surprising considering it's been known for quite a while that automation has been killing jobs like crazy. Theoretically, Japan should have fewer problems than any developed nation because the relative size of its young, productive labor force is trending in the same direction as manufacturing jobs.

No, the problems in Japan are similar to America's, which goes to show how irrelevant their population "problem" is. It's twofold:
1) The aging fiftysomethings are incredibly powerful culturally, within the labor force (where they are forming some very top-heavy companies) and demographically, in politics. So this is exactly like our Baby Boomer generation, with the richest generation further enriching themselves by exploiting their progeny. It's gotten to the point where some companies have forced retirement as a policy, but even forbidding anyone over 65 to keep working isn't solving the problem fast enough -- and doesn't solve the political problems. As a result, their Millenials are completely uninvested in their employers and country.
2) They are trying to be a manufacturing-based economy dependent on exports, but this causes a chronic problem of strengthening yen. The more goods they ship out, the more their own yen gets sucked back into the country, increasing global demand for the currency and effectively making their exports more expensive. Trade surplus nations invariably get hit with the deflation bug. America's got the other problem; we're a service- and consumer-based economy dependent on imports. The more oil we buy with dollars, the less oil our dollars buy. It's almost hilarious the extent to which these two countries think the other's grass is greener.

If 10% of the population is productive enough to sustain the other 90%, then the labor force being 1 ...


The problem with you theory is that is based around the 19th Century idea that agriculture and raw outputs of industrial production is the sum total of an economy.

The real reason why it won't be as big a problem as it is portrayed is that unless there is a good reason projecting things in an economy/culture to remain unchanged for 5 decades when there are obvious coming problems is not usually a reasonable assumption. As any problems start to hurt the political/social will to, for example, allow much higher levels of immigration will come about. Or maybe Japan will finally liberalise enough to properly protect and support the careers of families (particularly women) to reverse the trend - there were plenty of European countries down at 1.5 or below TFR back around the 1970s, most have risen back close to 2 again and so are stable for now.
 
2012-01-31 02:22:19 PM

Tommy Moo: DEALING WITH SOCIAL SECURITY IS MANAGEABLE. DEALING WITH OVERPOPULATION OF HUMANS IS NOT.

How many times do I have to make this point? The answer cannot be forever that every generation of humans is larger than the one before it. We need to figure out a way to balance the budget without relying on population growth. What are we supposed to do, keep it up until we form a human carpet, covering every square foot of land on the face of the earth?


That sounds problematic.
 
2012-01-31 02:24:28 PM

ChuDogg: Inchoate: ChuDogg: Maybe we can end the idea that the standard "retirement" should include owning several properties, an income close to or exceeding your working income, and flying all over the world with a lifestyle vastly superior to even the most powerful Kings, queens, and emperors of history?

That's not necessarily what people expect. They do expect to be able to live somewhere other than a major city that has enough people under the age of 60 around to run anything. The Japanese live long lives...

There's a thoughtful, intelligent (if acid) expat blog on this trend that I follow, Spike Japan. The road-trip series on Hokkaido's dwindling towns (new window) is especially good.

I don't know about Japan but they definitely do here.

Anytime I hear "Im worried i wont even be able to retire" I automatically translate that to " im worried I won't be able to live better than ghenghis khan did while pumped up on drugs in constant fear of my mortality".

The only thing unsustainable is retirement itself. If you couldn't save you should work until you're physically unable. Once you're physically unable your off to the group home to prepare for the inevitable. And the only medications you get are painkillers.

All retirement plans should be taxed retroactively and any pensions including SS should be revoked. And dont give me that shiat they "paid in", that money went to the general fund which bought all their shiny toys while cutting taxes and running up deficits. Paid in my ass


And I'm sure in another couple of decades, you're going to say "You know what, I've worked hard my entire life and I want to enjoy my last decade or two of living and fark anyone who says otherwise".

Plus you should realize that retroactively taxing away people's retirement is an excellent way to be lined up against the wall and shot. There's a lot of people out there who would of saved their own retirement, yet did not because for whatever reagon it made more sense for them to take advantage of their employers retirement program.
 
2012-01-31 02:25:49 PM

Purdue_Pete: Population DECREASE? Maybe I can move there then?


Yeah, but then you have to live with a bunch of Furbies. Pass.
 
2012-01-31 02:30:02 PM

DrunkenBob: No one wants to eat other people, that's how you get Mad Cow disease. What we should do is feed our elderly to our pets. Then we feed our pets to pigs, chickens, and cows, which in turn we eat. We're comfortably removed from the taboo meats while still reaping the benefits of incorporating our dead into our food chain, as opposed to allowing them to go to waste by rotting underground or cooked down into polluting dust.


The general concept is sound, but I'm going to quibble with the implementation details. Nobody's going to want to buy pet food made from humans. We'll have to add a step to the chain where humans are fed to livestock animals that become pet food (but not human food). Perhaps animals we raise for uses other than food, like fur animals or horses, but which produce some meat we don't normally eat.
 
2012-01-31 02:31:34 PM

xria: Or maybe Japan will finally liberalise enough to properly protect and support the careers of families (particularly women) to reverse the trend


They're working on it, at least. For instance, maternity/paternity leave is up to a year now (split between the parents however they desire). That's not saying that women don't still face issues having a career -- childcare, for instance, is tremendously hard to come by, as is care for elderly parents -- but they are trying.
 
2012-01-31 02:31:43 PM

jjorsett: jabelar: This is one of the bad results of our current economic system -- it needs constant expansion and that is mostly fueled by growing populations. But yeah in our current system, it is a very bad thing for a population to shrink -- there is no reason to invest, profits and employment shrink as well, and a general downward spiral happens.

Within a relatively short time (historically speaking), I think our machines will have enough intelligence that they can do anything humans can today. In a world like that, nobody will have to work in order to live (though some probably will, out of sheer boredom or for personal as opposed to economic reasons). It probably won't even have what we would recognize today as an "economy".


Yeah, I it is likely that automation will reduce the need for human workers. Unfortunately,it probably won't be as nice a scenario as you paint it because we haven't thought of a mechanism to redistribute the wealth. So, at least in the US, it is likely that it will result in a few uber-rich industrialists that will be able to produce most of the GDP without employing many people. It is of course what happened with agriculture (don't need thousands of threshers when you have one guy driving a combine harvester), with secretary pools (don't need dozens of secretaries when we can schedule our own meetings, flights, and do our own word processing), etc. There are also similar scary consequences with the military where eventually a bunch of automated drones can perform military actions without very many human soldiers -- with all that power in the hands of a few.

So what I expect will happen is that there will be a smaller and smaller set of jobs available, yet there will still be a concept that everyone should be employed and that the unemployed are just lazy. Basically, it will lead to a much greater rich-poor divide and probably need a major societal upheaval to properly reflect the idea that people shouldn't need to work to live.

Instead, what we should be doing is reducing work weeks every decade or so to reflect the fact that we simply don't need to work as hard to produce the same amount. This has happened numerous times in our past (work week used to be 80 hours and there were political fights to reduce it to 70, 60, 50, 40, 35, ...) But I don't see a lot of political will for this right now.
 
2012-01-31 02:39:31 PM
"Japan's population will keep declining by one million people every year in coming decades."

Nuclear melt downs, Godzilla, tsunamis, earthquakes..... more Godzilla.... Honestly I'm surprised their population isn't smaller already.
 
2012-01-31 02:43:44 PM

rico567: Japan is just setting a good example- but this is just a start. The entire human race needs to seriously downsize.



When more children survive to adulthood, people stop having so many kids. Medical science just got out ahead of survival expectations. The number of children born per woman has been falling for the last 50 years, from around 5 or 6 to 2.8 today. That number is projected to reach 1.85 by 2050. So yeah, the current demographic bulge of women of child-bearing age means an increase in population in the near term, but that number appears to be on its way to stabilizing and then falling into the 2100s.
 
2012-01-31 02:46:07 PM
Frankly, the entire world could do with some population down-sizing. Maybe to, say, a third of what it's currently at.
 
2012-01-31 02:50:25 PM
Not particularly great news for the Japanese, but this would be excellent news coming out of China and India.
 
2012-01-31 02:50:36 PM

Kit Fister: Frankly, the entire world could do with some population down-sizing. Maybe to, say, a third of what it's currently at.


Are you volunteering?
 
2012-01-31 02:56:47 PM
Tommy Moo: What are we supposed to do, keep it up until we form a human carpet, covering every square foot of land on the face of the earth?

"Shagadelic, baby."

happy217.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-01-31 02:57:17 PM

xria: The problem with you theory is that is based around the 19th Century idea that agriculture and raw outputs of industrial production is the sum total of an economy.


If anything I'm NOT; looking at Japan's situation that way would forecast catastrophe because 10% of the population can't sustain the sort of trade balance needed where 90% of the people were just collecting pensions. If anything, it takes very modern MMT concepts to figure that Japan's elderly have accumulated a staggering amount of money backed by productivity despite their shrinking workforce. I mean, honestly, they have very little natural resources but their currency is unbelievably strong. Their productivity is that competitive -- has been for forty years now -- and people think the size of the labor force is a problem? Anybody waiting for Japan to do a 180 on immigration could be waiting well over 5 decades. The politicians there, like here, are basically making issues of this to appeal to the base: racial pride and not enough young workers to fark over.

The best thing to happen to Japan would be for their elderly to start spending the country into a massive trade deficit. The yen would drop in value but exports would be more competitive and monetary velocity would skyrocket. Young workers would find it more financially rewarding to work and easier to pay their debts. Instead, a lot of the old people are hoarding jobs AND cash. They're not just shrinking their progeny; they're crippling it. The only thing the politicians can do is just make noise about how it's not their fault.
 
2012-01-31 03:14:57 PM

SurfaceTension: Sybarite: There are going to be massive public finance problems as the country has too many non-working elderly and too few working people to support them. European countries have been dealing with this problem by allowing more immigration, but in Japan that would require a complete 180 in public policy.

And culture. IIRC, the Japanese people are generally xenophobic.


Be careful when ascribing a particular flavor of xenophobia to the Japanese as a whole.

Xenophobia in Japan is... nuanced.

That said, Japan's problems with public finance are far deeper than the tax base or anything "socialist" in the sense of "providing services for the public". Their lost decade is 20 years long and counting simply because they won't do what we did 4 years ago with their (still) zombified companies.

Imagine if GM or Wells Fargo was still being kept afloat almost solely by government funds in 2028. That's what we're talking about here.

That and their seeming total inability to get the rest of the world to devalue the Yen on the FOREX markets.

But yeah, population is the *least* of Japan's problems.
 
2012-01-31 03:21:11 PM

simplicimus: Rapmaster2000: They'll have to figure out a way to tax robots.

Slightly off topic, but Japan is leading in the development of exoskeletons, so that 60 year old sons and daughters can lift 80 year old parents.


Coming soon robotic beds for geriatrics
 
2012-01-31 03:28:29 PM
Their young people are committing suicide at a high rate. Thats pretty much the ultimate evidence of a failed country.

Their economy has been in recession for about 22 years so the kids understand it's not just another economic downturn and there is no future for them.
 
2012-01-31 03:33:15 PM

grimnir: Kit Fister: Frankly, the entire world could do with some population down-sizing. Maybe to, say, a third of what it's currently at.

Are you volunteering?


Already had the snip, thanks. And, given my mental state on any given day, I may take myself out of the gene pool earlier than natural causes.
 
2012-01-31 03:34:26 PM
www.geekinheels.com

Oblig.
 
2012-01-31 03:37:51 PM

Tommy Moo: DEALING WITH SOCIAL SECURITY IS MANAGEABLE. DEALING WITH OVERPOPULATION OF HUMANS IS NOT.

How many times do I have to make this point? The answer cannot be forever that every generation of humans is larger than the one before it. We need to figure out a way to balance the budget without relying on population growth. What are we supposed to do, keep it up until we form a human carpet, covering every square foot of land on the face of the earth?


We do need some form of population sustainability, and why not let Japan and China figure it out first. Europe and America have passed the buck with massive immigration, in the latter case illegal immigrants. and India is just going for broke.

And, don't get me started on the Quiverfull nutjobs, and Catholic Church who believe we just "go forth and multiply". They're not helping.
 
2012-01-31 03:47:30 PM

kvinesknows: I volunteer to go and impregnate all the Japanese women.


if you find one that wants crazy babies, please contact me here. moshe moshe
 
2012-01-31 03:52:49 PM

Tommy Moo: How many times do I have to make this point? The answer cannot be forever that every generation of humans is larger than the one before it. We need to figure out a way to balance the budget without relying on population growth. What are we supposed to do, keep it up until we form a human carpet, covering every square foot of land on the face of the earth?


I don't think we'll have created a carpet of man, just a ribbon along the edges, By then we'll have seeded the seas with an edible algea that grows a foot thick along the seashore, and that'll be the only thing to eat.

I pity the explorers who find that
 
2012-01-31 03:53:12 PM

Bob16: Their young people are committing suicide at a high rate. Thats pretty much the ultimate evidence of a failed country.

Their economy has been in recession for about 22 years so the kids understand it's not just another economic downturn and there is no future for them.


While this comment is full of [citation needed] on the "ultimate evidence of a failed country" part, the Wikipedia article on suicide in japan is pretty interesting: Link (new window)

Also interesting in that link, why did the suicide rate in Switzerland from 75 to 85 get so high?

/worth noting that according to that data, Japan's suicide rate hasn't exceeded the 1960's level
//"failed country"? hate Japan much?
 
2012-01-31 04:01:11 PM

Starry Heavens: Here's the problem in graphical form, for 2025:

[i295.photobucket.com image 450x452]

Now shift everything up by 35 years. In the US (the bottom graph), it will still be basically the same shape, with people being born at a steady rate and dying off once they start hitting their 70s. In Japan, the long pink line at the center will now be up at the 85-89 year mark, and will be supported by the few 35-year-olds who used to be the cyan infants in the graph. It will basically be a pyramid standing on its tip, which is as unsustainable for a country as it is for a building.

/graphic stolen from MoneyWeek, but not hotlinked


30.media.tumblr.com

You were saying?
 
2012-01-31 04:27:33 PM

raygundan: The general concept is sound, but I'm going to quibble with the implementation details. Nobody's going to want to buy pet food made from humans. We'll have to add a step to the chain where humans are fed to livestock animals that become pet food (but not human food). Perhaps animals we raise for uses other than food, like fur animals or horses, but which produce some meat we don't normally eat.


Sounds good. Most meat in dog food is left over bits from slaughtered livestock, but having pet food pigs available as well would tickle pet food producers pink. Or feed them to livestock mostly undesirable for eating, like goats or wool producing sheep.
 
2012-01-31 04:28:44 PM

Starry Heavens: Tommy Moo: Yes, but it will only be unsustainable for a single generation, until the old people die out. This can be overcome through running a deficit for a few years, at which point the graph will resemble a straight pole as people settle into a rhythm of having 2.00 children per woman. This will happen when the free market equilibrates with the demand for human labor.

Just so you know, that would be a significant increase in the number of children, since it's currently less than 1.4. Since one of the major causes of the low fertility rate is lack of money for raising kids, more retirees increasing the burden on working families seems like it would exacerbate that, not improve it.

One benefit, I suppose, is that housing prices should absolutely plummet. That would help young families get an apartment for a reasonable price.

/for comparison, the fertility rate in America is 2.05
//Japan is 1.37


Yes, it would be an increase, but this would be likely to happen, as jobs will pay more due to a shrinking supply of labor, allowing people to have larger families. Also, for the housing price reason you spoke of. The free market will take care of this. Eventually, if a society is underpopulated relative to the demand for labor to keep it running, employers will have to offer such high salaries that people will be able to afford larger families. Additionally the government will pay people to have kids (see the U.S. after WWII with the invention of the dependent child tax credit to stuff the factories back when we made things here.)
 
2012-01-31 04:40:57 PM

kvinesknows: I volunteer to go and impregnate all the Japanese women.


You need a Wingman?
 
2012-01-31 04:44:16 PM

Tommy Moo: DEALING WITH SOCIAL SECURITY IS MANAGEABLE. DEALING WITH OVERPOPULATION OF HUMANS IS NOT.

How many times do I have to make this point? The answer cannot be forever that every generation of humans is larger than the one before it. We need to figure out a way to balance the budget without relying on population growth. What are we supposed to do, keep it up until we form a human carpet, covering every square foot of land on the face of the earth?


For your information, the entire population of earth can fit in texas with over 1000 square feet per person.
 
2012-01-31 04:44:42 PM
On the plus side:

Oomparoompas.
 
2012-01-31 04:45:34 PM

Non-evil Monkey:
Plus you should realize that retroactively taxing away people's retirement is an excellent way to be lined up against the wall and shot.


A bunch of fat, balding, worn-out 70-year-old retirees fighting against a much larger population of people in the prime of their lives? I'll take my chances.
 
2012-01-31 04:47:45 PM

washington-babylon: Tommy Moo: DEALING WITH SOCIAL SECURITY IS MANAGEABLE. DEALING WITH OVERPOPULATION OF HUMANS IS NOT.

How many times do I have to make this point? The answer cannot be forever that every generation of humans is larger than the one before it. We need to figure out a way to balance the budget without relying on population growth. What are we supposed to do, keep it up until we form a human carpet, covering every square foot of land on the face of the earth?

For your information, the entire population of earth can fit in texas with over 1000 square feet per person.


Gonna be too crowded for my multiple cars.
 
2012-01-31 06:13:35 PM
Repeat
 
2012-01-31 06:25:30 PM

rico567: Japan is just setting a good example- but this is just a start. The entire human race needs to seriously downsize. There's not a serious global problem that wouldn't disappear if the population of the world were about what it was at the end of the Black Death in 1350...a bit more than the population of the United States today. It's all just one of those easy way / hard way things.


Well said. Its obvious connection to climate change is rarely (if that) discussed, in spite of the problem being well understood at the highest levels since at least the early 1970's and Congress' Commission on Population Growth and the American Future report (1972). Also there's been continual resistance to this sort of thing reaching public debate from a number of directions. It's difficult to fight back because it can so easily appear prejudiced. Consider, for example, that significant birth control resistance historically comes from the Vatican. As the US number of Roman Catholics grow in tandem with continuing Hispanic growth, birth control can be cynically described as "racist".
 
2012-01-31 06:28:41 PM

Kit Fister: Frankly, the entire world could do with some population down-sizing. Maybe to, say, a third of what it's currently at.


So, who do we want to start with--the darkies, or the slant-eyes?

/Proper population control depends on controlling the proper populations.
 
2012-01-31 07:09:54 PM
Why is this a problem? Fewer people means more resources to be divided amongst them. Isn't Japan overcrowded anyway?
 
2012-01-31 07:11:04 PM

jagec: Non-evil Monkey:
Plus you should realize that retroactively taxing away people's retirement is an excellent way to be lined up against the wall and shot.

A bunch of fat, balding, worn-out 70-year-old retirees fighting against a much larger population of people in the prime of their lives? I'll take my chances.


My parents are in that age category and I respect them. They still work, since SS is basically a joke, and they still work out, as well. Sorry yours are fat, balding, and worn-out. Guess that will never happen to you though.
 
2012-01-31 07:19:26 PM

Kahabut: Starry Heavens: It will basically be a pyramid standing on its tip, which is as unsustainable for a country as it is for a building.

[30.media.tumblr.com image 500x500]

You were saying?


That is farking awesome. Also, terrifying. WTF.
 
2012-01-31 07:45:15 PM
Japan also has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Women in Japan have very little incentive to become mothers. Many of the young men and women live with and off their parents into their thirties. A majority of Japanese women believe that motherhood is not something they desire or plan on. Its a demographic disaster
 
2012-01-31 09:07:33 PM

Delawheredad: Japan also has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.


Where did you get taht statistic from? If this is to be believed, it's 2/3rds the rate of the US.
 
2012-01-31 09:11:37 PM

Starry Heavens: Kahabut: Starry Heavens: It will basically be a pyramid standing on its tip, which is as unsustainable for a country as it is for a building.

[30.media.tumblr.com image 500x500]

You were saying?

That is farking awesome. Also, terrifying. WTF.


Tokyo knows how to handle upside down pyramids

www.japaneselifestyle.com.au
 
2012-01-31 09:28:45 PM
You guys know that unlike Americans, Japanese people know how to save and invest for their own retirements, right? I know A LOT of elderly Japanese people and they saved their whole lives so cat food wouldn't be for dinner. I generally think what they DO eat for dinner tastes worse, but that's me.

And don't worry about the xenophobia. When it's no longer sustainable it won't be sustained.
 
2012-02-01 12:09:49 AM
Time for the hot Japanese school girls to line up outside my bedroom. I shall, single handily, solve this problem.

/no need to pay me I'm doing my part
 
2012-02-01 07:51:25 AM

TheCore: single handily


Something tells me you've spent too much time alone to be of any use to those hot Japanese schoolgirls.
 
2012-02-01 11:27:39 AM
i39.tinypic.com

Weeners this?

\i am disappoint
 
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