Aging in Japan: Causes and Consequences. Part I: Demographic Issues [Revised and updated August 2002]

Horlacher, D. (2001). Aging in Japan: Causes and Consequences. Part I: Demographic Issues [Revised and updated August 2002]. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-01-008

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This paper reviews demographic issues related to the aging of the population of Japan. Among its findings are:

-- The aging of the Japanese population has little to do with "aging of the baby boom generation" as in countries such as the United States, because the baby boom was only three years long. It is rather, almost entirely due to low fertility.

-- Recent fertility decline in Japan have reflected not so much declining marital fertility as decline in the proportion of women of childbearing age who are married. This is due mostly to rising age at first marriage and increased lifetime celibacy although the rising divorce rate also plays a role.

-- The reluctance of young women to marry and raise children can be explained in terms of rising opportunity costs, particularly opportunity costs associated with the labor market. At the same time that costs of childbearing are rising, the benefits appear to be declining. A falling share of women report that they expect to rely on their children for age support and a surprisingly low proportion -- only 9 percent of mothers of 0-14 year olds, as opposed to 40-70 percent in other industrial countries -report that they derive pleasure from child rearing. As attitudes toward non-marital sex become more permissive, the benefits to be derived from entering into marriage are also falling.

-- While mortality improvements play a secondary role in population aging (compared to low fertility), they have potentially significant impacts on health care costs and the demand for long-term care.

-- Though it would be technically possible to prevent the aging or decline of the Japanese population by allowing increased international migration, the levels required to halt population decline and population aging would be immense. Such large inflows are not currently permitted nor are they likely to be permitted in the future.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: Social Security Reform (SSR)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:13
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:17

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