Changes in the population of Japan
Birth and death rates of Japan since 1950The aging of Japan outweighs all other nations with the highest proportion of elderly citizens, 21% over the age of 65. In 1989, only 11.6% of the population was 65 years or older, but projections were that 25.6% would be in that age category by 2030. However, those estimates now seem low given that 21.2% (as of April 2007) are already 65 and over, now the world’s highest. The change will have taken place in a shorter span of time than in any other country.
This demographic group increased from 26.5 million in 2006 to 27.4 million in 2007, a 0.7% increase. The Japanese Health Ministry estimates the nation’s total population will decrease by 25% from 127.8 million in 2005 to 95.2 million by 2050. Japan’s elderly population, aged 65 or older, comprised 20% of the nation’s population in June 2006, a percentage expected to increase to 40% by 2055.
A study by the UN Population Division released in 2000 found that Japan would need to raise its retirement age to 77 or admit 1 million immigrants annually between 2000 and 2050 to maintain its worker-to-retiree ratio.
Paul S. Hewitt, an analyst for International Politics and Society, wrote in 2002 that Japan, in addition to the European nations of Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Sweden, will experience an unprecedented labor shortage by 2010. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Japan will experience an 18% decrease in its workforce and 8% decrease in its consumer population by 2030.
Hewitt believes this decline in overall population and shortage in labor is reducing economic growth and lowering nations’ gross domestic product. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates labor shortages will decrease the European Union’s economic growth by 0.4% annually from 2000 to 2025 at least, after which shortages will cost the EU 0.9% in growth. In Japan these shortages will lower growth by 0.7% annually until 2025, after which Japan will also experience a 0.9% loss in growth.