7 Billion Humans | Empty Nests in the Aging Developed World: Tokyo Subway | Japan is the Most Rapidly Aging Country in the World

Tokyo Subway | Japan is the Most Rapidly Aging Country in the World

Japan’s fertility rate (average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime) is 1.23 and it is the most rapidly ageing country in the world. Japan’s population began declining in 2005 and the median age there is 41.3. The two oldest people in the world (112 and 114, both are women) live in Japan. By 2055, forty percent of the population will be over 65 and there will be almost 30 million fewer people. Some demographers have predicted that it is already impossible for Japan to recover from its population plunge.

By 2030 there will be two workers to support each aged person, down from the current three. The government has introduced measures to encourage employers to retain employees and is extending the retirement age to 65. Japan has a cultural opposition to immigration, although it does utilize resident labor.

Japan does have a thriving robotics industry and it appears that humanoid robots could take up the worker shortfall in the aged care industry. It may also become a major export item to other developed countries in need of a similar solution.

At the moment the Japanese government spends approximately 8% of GDP on health care but this is expected to rise by 2–3% per year and co-contributions by patients have tripled since 1996.

Three fifths of all farmers are over 65, as are two out of five people living in rural communities. This raises issues for farming of all products, but especially rice.

Finally, young educated women are choosing not to marry, because it is much harder for women to work once they have children—the family-friendly structure is just not there to support them.

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