Friday, June 02, 2006

Japan's fertility rate drops to record low 1.25 in 2005

The news on Japan's population problem doesn't get any better: Fertility rate drops to record low 1.25 in 2005. That is way below the forecasts of even a couple of years ago (in 2002 they forecast 1.31 for this year), and the actual population decline has also happened much faster than was predicted. Something has gone badly wrong with the way official forecasts have been generated - I would guess this is due to the natural instinct of politicians to pretend that long-term issues are less of a problem than they are in reality, in order to put off the problem to future Governments. Even under the optimistic official forecasts, Japan's population would be expected to halve by 2100.

So far, the Govt's plans to reverse this trend amount to a rather meagre increase in financial assistance for parents (oh yes - better not forget the "parent and child" book too). There is a certain amount of political tension over the possibility of importing more workers - eg someone has proposed a ceiling of 3% on the proportion of foreign nationals here (which is now over 1.5% [not the 1.2% mentioned in that article], even if you only count the legal ones, and increasing rapidly).

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