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Japan's fertility rate rises to 1.43 in 2013

30 Comments

The Ministry of Heath, Labor and Welfare said Wednesday that in 2013, the number of children a Japanese woman might give birth to in her lifetime, also known as "total fertility rate," rose to an average of 1.43 -- an increase of 0.02 point over 2012.

While these numbers speak to an overall rise in the national birthrate, only 1,029,800 children were born last year, which is the lowest number ever recorded, TBS quoted a ministry official as saying.

However, the ministry said there has been an increase in the number of women in their 30s and 40s giving birth, TBS reported.

Furthermore, the ministry reported that a total of 1,268,432 individuals passed away in Japan last year, the highest number since the end of World War II.

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Fertility rate increased slightly but the number of women of child bearing age continues its decline ...hence the record low of births in 2013. The headline is misleadingly positive.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

1,029,800 children were born last year, which is the lowest number ever recorded

1,268,432 individuals passed away in Japan last year, the highest number since the end of World War II

Numbers that don't require Stephen Hawking's grip of big bag theory to figure out the consequences.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

1.43 is still way below the rate required for a stable population. The article headline is akin to saying "the rate af descent of the Titanic has decreased"...

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I'd say this is a big driver in the stagnation of the economy, and goes to show the massive task of stimulating demand as one that is probably out of Abe's hands. Also doesn't bode we'll for anyone counting on a Japanese pension.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Unfortunately one adverse effect of a declining population for the young is increased social and economic pressure. They will have to support an infrastructure with costly, intensive care for the oldest among their population. Labor shortages can occur which may cripple labor intensive sectors of the economy. The economic stagnation of Japan is linked to demographic problems. Some countries in Eastern Europe already have programs to stop the large decline in their population by offering financial incentives and subsidies to encourage women to have children. There are also countries in Western and Southern Europe and even countries in Asia that offer thousands of dollars for each baby and regular payments and care for the child. Thus it is evident that a number of countries see declining birth rates as a serious issue enough to offer incentives for reproduction. Hence this will not go away for countries that attract immigrants. Lastly America would probably have a declining population if it were not for immigration and if the birth and death rates get worst you will hear much about the total fertility rate.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow. The connection is still tenuous but I would like to see this as initial proof of my theory that optimism and pesssimsm are powerful drivers of Japan's fertility rate, and that better future expectations will drive more Japanese to have children.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

all JT'ers should be doing their bit to get this number up.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Since the world has too many people and Japan is too densely populated and lives far beyond its carrying capacity, the declining population should be seen in positive terms. It should also be a lesson, especially for neo-nationalist, that a population boom as part of aggressive nation-building and expansionism has long-term consequences. It should also tell neoliberal supporters that spiral-down economics and stagnant and declining wages are not a recipe for building families.

Economic decline in Japan is inevitable. The question is whether this country chooses to follow a US model, where all the riches go to the 1% and everyone else fights each other for the scraps, or go a different, more self-reliant and fairer route, developing sustainable energy, a less-consumptive lifestyle, better distribution of wealth and a rediscovery of agriculture as the essence of economy.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

warispeace-

Since the world has too many people and Japan is too densely populated and lives far beyond its carrying capacity, the declining population should be seen in positive terms

it's not about the number of people, it's about the ratio. not enough young people to support old people, is the problem.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

all JT'ers should be doing their bit to get this number up.

I think most JTers do not live in Japan.

1 ( +5 / -5 )

Saw an interesting segment on TV about how 800+ regions in Japan will "die out" in the decades ahead due to depopulation, or all the young working age people moving to Tokyo.

But Tokyo has the lowest fertility rate in Japan by far, hovering just above 1.0. So the baby-producing population is going to the worst place in the country to produce babies.

Tokyo was described as a black hole.

When I think about calls for Japan to turn on the immigration spigots, it makes me wonder to what extent that would actually help, since I guess most immigrants wouldn't want to live out in the countryside where the population is dying out. On the surface it looks like a good idea from a simple numbers perspective, but methinks it would hardly solve Japan's problems.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Ha, who's been going around?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

However, the ministry said there has been an increase in the number of women in their 30s and 40s giving birth, TBS reported.

this is exactly what Japan does not need. Especially not those in their 40s.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

However, the ministry said there has been an increase in the number of women in their 30s and 40s giving birth, TBS reported. this is exactly what Japan does not need. Especially not those in their 40s.*

I think Japan needs to be greatful for any children born whether from women in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Japan is certainly not in a position to be choosy and compared to other countries it doesn't particularly provide any substantial incentives to its younger women to have kids with the social budget disproportionately skewed towards the elderly. You got any solutions?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In Tokyo, it seems like every day an elderly owner of a relatively large, single-family house passes away, and the kids are forced to sell away the land just to find the funds for the atrociously high death taxes levied on their parents. The land gets swiped up by huge property development corporations who then do one of three things: one: turns it into parking lots for hire by the hour, two: turns it into an apartment block of 1K singles rooms where young Japanese who move to the city stay in way past the time when they should be marrying and having kids, or three: converts what once was a single house plot into three or more yard-less "Microhouses" that at best have just enough room for a single-child nuclear family and their car.

It's called societal demographic suicide, you can see it occurring in every neighborhood, and the real irony is it's the very same corporations Abe is lauding to the skies for their rising prices and ever higher profits that are working hard to bring about the overall free fall in Tokyo's birthrate. And with 25% of the entire population living in and around the capital city, where so ever Tokyo goes, so goes the rest of the country...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Without needed fundamental changes, Japan will fight an uphill battle in terms of shrinking population and birthrate in both columns. Further, right now Japan is positioned in a spot where to increase its birthrate is becoming more difficulty than ever before.

The report on JT apparently miss a piece of important data. According to report released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last wed, although the total fertility rate rose 0.02 percentage point from 2012, the number of births in Japan fell by 7,400 to a record low of 1,029,800 in 2013, and deaths increased by 12,000 to 1,268,400, resulting in a natural population decline of 238,600: an all-time high in Japan's history.

In other words, there is a crisis in making. Yet, when Japan needs a true and visionary leader to lead Japan in 21st Century , there is none. That is the biggest mistake Japan would make.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The article headline is akin to saying "the rate af descent of the Titanic has decreased"...

WilliB -- Brilliant.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'm with the observations of "warispeace".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Economic decline in Japan is inevitable. The question is whether this country chooses to follow a US model, where all the riches go to the 1% and everyone else fights each other for the scraps, or go a different, more self-reliant and fairer route, developing sustainable energy, a less-consumptive lifestyle, better distribution of wealth and a rediscovery of agriculture as the essence of economy.

...which is the communist economic model... which has been proven to be a failure - both in the "fairer route" with "better distribution of wealth" (sure, if you're one of the politiburo leaders), and in the aspect of productivity (Worker A can bust his butt at his job but worker B standing next to him does the bare minimum to keep from getting fired. When they go home at night, the communist economic model says they both get an equal share of pay. The next day, Worker A joins Worker B in doing the bare minimum because why work harder when it doesn't affect your pay? Now multiply by the millions of "comrades", all doing the bare minimum to get their pay.) And don't get me STARTED on the corruption such an economic policy fosters. Russia has been an erstwhile socialist/capitalist country since 1998, yet you STILL can't get anything done there without bribing the appropriate officials. This is a carry-over from the days of the USSR.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Nice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Confusing statistic. Is this good news or bad news?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Fadamor

Why does talk of a fairer distribution have to mean the Soviet application of communism? It could just mean a democratically fairer distribution, not a flat distribution imposed by a totalitarian state. The example of Mondragon Corporation in Spain is instructive. Yours is the trite rhetoric of those who try to justify extreme inequality.

There are reports of young men in Japan who say the salary for their temp jobs just don't allow them to go on dates, let alone raise a family.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tessa, I believe it is good news. The fertility rate in 2005 was 1.26 and has steadily risen to 1.43 in 2013. At this rate, we should hopefully be able to reach 1.60 by 2020. Meanwhile, the fertility rate in our neighboring country (SK) has dropped to an all-time low of 1.19 in 2013, which is quite worrying.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

warispeace,

A "democraticially fairer distribution"?

I think democracy is good for deciding common rules, but for deciding outcomes? Not so much. Not at all in fact.

What I think is fair is this - government seeks to ensure equal opportunity for the people, through provision of education, public infrastructure, police etc. (We can talk about that.)

The distribution that comes about following this is inherently fair, because people will make of their opportunities as they strive to. Those who choose to start a company such as Facebook or Apple will get rich, but they'll also create thousands of jobs for other people in the economy in the process. So yes there will be inequality. But would the economy have been better off without Facebook or Apple and all the jobs and services created as part of it?

There are reports of young men in Japan who say the salary for their temp jobs just don't allow them to go on dates, let alone raise a family.

I've seen those too. But that's a matter of the Japanese economy having been crap for ages.

I'm not against some kind of breaks or assistance for the really needy. But destroying the economy as a means of achieving a "fair distribution" is loopy as far as I'm concerned.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good news! Now, lets get protections for our beautiful Japanese women so they can keep their jobs and have families (along with some great incentives to have kids), and we'll see another jump in the statistics.

When I think about calls for Japan to turn on the immigration spigots, it makes me wonder to what extent that would actually help, since I guess most immigrants wouldn't want to live out in the countryside where the population is dying out. On the surface it looks like a good idea from a simple numbers perspective, but methinks it would hardly solve Japan's problems.

Great perspective, I agree, I don't think immigration is the right answer for Japan. Most foreigners will live in Tokyo, or other big cities compounding the problem. That being said, with agriculture reform a lot of cheap labor could be sent to the countryside and revitalize rural Japan. However, agricultural reform might also be able to decentralize the country and cause a farming boom (since farmers will be able to turn profits and incorporate themselves).

In any case, before talking about immigration, we should start tapping Japan's women, and get them both to work (for a fair wage, on par with a man's) and have kids without having to choose one over the other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I will be HAPPY to contribute to the cause.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Cheaper housing, fewer cars on the roads, greater demand for school leavers, fewer nappies to change, a reduced burden on the environment, more higher teacher to pupil ratios, more time for artistic creativity, industry, and social intercourse. There are good sides to a low birth rate, and it is also these good reasons that are a driving force in keeping the birth rate low. Evolution will do its job and wipe the Japanese off the face the of the earth if they are not adapted to it, but it does not mean that the Japanese will be unhappy as they disappear - even if they should disappear (which I very much doubt). Evolution cares not for human well being and there is nothing inherently good about being numerous, as far as I am aware. By far the bigger problem for the planet is overpopulation so whatever the Japanese are doing, they are doing it better than in those other over populated places.

I could have argued that other way, but what with all the gloom and doom.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@fxgai

I guess it is easier to live inside the theory of an neo-classical economics textbook than in the real world of political economy. All those assumptions make for a nice, simplistic model of the world.

Facebook and Apple are companies built not out of thin air, but because of all the public infrastructure and education, and all the wealth of society, the common resources and labour that those owners exploited to make their millions. Without this, their businesses would never have succeeded. And without the great labour struggles and democracy that produced real outcomes of better wages and working conditions, and a progressive tax system, there would be nobody able to use their products. Why should these owners take so much when they actually owe so much? Aside from a question of fairness, it is actually in their interest to redistribute their wealth so that there will still be families with average incomes able to by these products that apparently we can't live without.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think low birth rate happens all over the world except developing countries such as India.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

warispeace:

" Facebook and Apple are companies built not out of thin air, but because of all the public infrastructure and education, "

....but somehow countries with state-owned economies, where all wealth is allocated by all-knowing, benevolent bureacrats never manage to produce any Facebook and Apple.

I guess it is easier to live inside the theory of class-welfare than to face real life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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