Tuesday, May 2, 2017

An Aging Population

In Chapter 2 of his book, Gordon discusses how the labor force and the population as a whole have changed over the years. The percentage of people living past the age of 65 has increased globally. For Japan, this poses a problem. Due to improvements in healthcare, Japanese life expectancy has increased drastically, but with a birth rate of only 1.4 per woman, Japan's population is not only aging, but it is also shrinking. The National Institute of Population and Social Securities Research predicts that 40 percent of Japan's population will be over 65 by 2050. This will put more pressure on the working population and government upon whom the elderly are dependent. The diagram shows the evolution of Japan's population pyramid.
Image result for japan population pyramid 1950
Some have suggested that Japan welcome more immigrants to increase the working population. Can you think of any more solutions?



  1. I find it interesting that life expectancy could have a negative impact on the working population. I think a solution that could possibly help with increasing the working population is have policy makers develop a retirement scheme that allows older people to work less hours while still being in the workforce.

  2. I agree with Branden. Another idea would be to offer more tax break incentives to have children. This may help increase the birth rate.

    That being said, I am curious if other developed countries like the US and countries in the EU will start following this trend. In the long term, a decrease in the human population may even be a good thing for global sustainability. It does pose a problem in the short term though when the retiree population outnumbers the working class.

  3. To Branden's point, I don't know if it's so much that the increase in life expectancy as it is the decreasing birthrate that could have a negative impact. That being said, if lifestyles do not change and the birth rate does not increase - or continues to decrease - it would be a good idea to relax immigration policies to allow for a larger working population. However, given that Japan is a relatively homogeneous society, it may be a while before immigration is widely accepted. I know that other proposed solutions have included increasing imports of finished goods from countries with relatively low wages, and the increased use of robots.

  4. Branden does make an interesting point. I feel like in the US people still work over the age of 65, maybe there is something we are missing? I also agree with the incentive to increase birth rates. If life expectancy is increasing then at older ages women should be able to have more children. I think these solutions presented above are pretty feasible.

  5. Due to the postwar baby boom following World War II, the number of people retiring after 2007 in Japan really brought on a labor shortage. It would be interesting to see if Japan could utilize its technology to help ease the pressure put on the working population. Furthermore, there needs to be an easing of this pressure because 1456 people died from "Karoshi"- death from overworking in 2016.