CEPR - Center for Economic and Policy Research

Multimedia

En Español

Em Português

Other Languages

Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Washington Post Thinks It's Terrible that Japan is Becoming Less Crowded and the People are Becoming Healthier

The Washington Post Thinks It's Terrible that Japan is Becoming Less Crowded and the People are Becoming Healthier

Print
Monday, 29 October 2012 06:59

That's what readers of a front page piece highlighting Japan's "decline" would assume. After all, the major facts cited to make the case are a projection that its population would decline from 127 million today to 47 million at the end of the century and that it has the oldest population in the world.

The decline in population might be seen as good news except by those who feel that people exist to give their politicians more power in the world. Japan is a very densely populated country. People are employed to shove commuters into over-crowded subway cars. It is difficult to see why anyone would be concerned if the country becomes less crowded over the course of the century.

In terms of the aging of the population, this is due in part to the fact that Japanese have a life expectancy that is four years longer than the United States. It would have a younger population if its people could only expect to live as long as people in the United States.

In fact, a serious examination of the data does not support the case of a Japan in decline, at least in terms of the living standards of its population. According to the OECD, the average length of the workyear has fallen by almost 15 percent over the last two decades. At the same time, the IMF reports that per capita income has risen by more than one-third. It is difficult to see how this would fit the definition of a nation in decline.

Comments (6)Add Comment
People Power is Socialism, Car Power is Capitalism
written by Last Mover, October 29, 2012 7:58
People are employed to shove commuters into over-crowded subway cars.


America in its wisdom to grow political power with more people for more people, has advanced beyond such crude tactics, employing people instead to shove more cars into over-crowded highways and roads.

Get a Romney car elevator today under the PPPP plan (Political Power Per Person) to avoid that long walk up and down the stairway. Damn mass transit. Full speed ahead into traffic jams.
...
written by JDM, October 29, 2012 8:28
Can we decline like that? I could use the time off, money, and extra years and space.
having lived in Tokyo in the 1990s
written by Troy, October 29, 2012 11:27
and wanting to go back maybe I've been trying to get my head around their future prospect.

The important demographic take-away is not that their retired population is going to keep growing from here, taking over everything -- actually, it's not.

Rather, since they had a very short, sharp baby boom, a small baby boom echo, and zero echo from that, their working-age population is going to keep declining.

http://i.imgur.com/5Mc9f.png

purple is aged 15-64, green is age 65+

shows that Japan is already halfway through the population rise of age 65+.

Our baby boom was immense, and is only now entering this demographic -- Obama's cohort is on the back end of this and won't turn 65 until 2027!

Plus the baby boom replaced themselves with Gen Y, and Gen Y is making babies now, so all demographics are still expanding in the US, which is going to put increasing pressure on our resource consumption.

Also, too, it is the Japanese that own over $1T of our treasuries, and not the other way around.

Life is pretty tough for millions of Japanese, though, since the dynamism of their economy sorta topped out ca 1985 and much of the economic support since then has been flimflam bubble spending and government stimulus spending.

Japan's hourly wage is still China's daily wage, so it's tough for manufacturing to be competitive there. With the demographics, it's tough to find growth in domestic service economy, outside serving old people, but old people don't want to part with money.

All in all I think I'd rather have Japan's problems to solve than America's. Their export/import picture is in rough balance so they are at least paying their way in the world. We are not.
...
written by Widgetmaker, October 29, 2012 12:36
You're just too damned logical, Dr Baker. I am surprised that someone that thinks the ways you do can get as far in such a world as this. I am also very heartened.
Simple logical deduction
written by Matt, October 29, 2012 7:42
It is difficult to see how this would fit the definition of a nation in decline.


It's a simple matter of logical discussion - the folks at the Post know that the average *American's* workyear has gone UP while real income has gone DOWN (or at best, stagnated). Ipso facto, a county that has seen those indicators move in the opposite direction MUST be "in decline" - otherwise, that might suggest doubleplusungood things about MERICA! ;)
decline/enilced
written by diesel, October 30, 2012 9:14
Just to summarize the values of the variables and see what the opposite of "decline" would look like.

(1) An increasing population (possibly through unrestricted immigration and/or uninhibited birth rates)
(2) Reduced life expectancy (possibly through inadequate breadth and/or depth of health care)
(3) Longer annual work hours (possibly through stripping worker's of all collective bargaining rights and exposing their wages to downward pressure by having them compete with a bottomless pit of desperate foreign and or immigrant labor)
(4) Declining per capita income (same as 3).

Looked at in this mirror, "it is difficult to see how this would [not] fit the definition of a nation in decline."

Write comment

(Only one link allowed per comment)

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comments.

busy
 

CEPR.net
Support this blog, donate
Combined Federal Campaign #79613

About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

Archives