'No time to waste': As Japan hits a record low birth rate, government urges action

Japan's birth rate is the lowest it has ever been since the country first collected the statistic in 1899. Government officials said the rate is in "critical condition," after the eighth consecutive year the birth rate decreased.

In 2023, Japan welcomed 758,631 babies – but the number is a 5.1% decrease from the previous year, according to Japan's Health and Welfare Ministry.

One of the key reasons behind the declining birth rate in Japan is a drop in married couples.

Marriages fell by 5.9% to 489,281 couples – the first time in 90 years the number was less than half a million. Births to unmarried parents are rare in Japan, due to traditional paternalistic family values, the Associated Press reported.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters earlier this week, “The period over the next six years or so until 2030s, when the younger population will start declining rapidly, will be the last chance we may be able to reverse the trend,” Hayashi continued. “There is no time to waste,” the AP reported.

 rate shrinking?

About half of unmarried people under 30 in Japan are uninterested in having children, a survey by a pharmaceutical firm showed. Respondents said the burden of childbirth and parenting were a reason they had no interest in having kids, along with economic concerns.

A high cost of living that's outpacing pay increases is one reason why young Japanese adults are not interested in becoming parents, the survey found. Bleak job prospects and intense corporate cultures are also discouraging to young adults who are in their child-bearing years.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida previously called the low births “the biggest crisis Japan faces,” and put forward a package of measures that have included more support and subsidies mostly for childbirth, children and their families.

How will a declining birth rate impact Japan?

Japan’s population is expected to decrease about 30% to 87 million by 2070, with four out of every 10 people aged 65 or older, the AP reported.

An aging and declining population is a cause for concern over national security issues and can cause economic challenges for the country.

What other countries have a declining birth rate?

China and South Korea also face a declining birth rate: The average number of expected babies for a birthing person in South Korea fell to a record low of 0.72 from 0.78 in 2022, according to data from Statistics Korea.

The U.S. faced a declining birth rate as well: Between 2007 and 2022, the birth rate fell from 14.3 births per 1,000 people to 11.1, or nearly 23%, according to the CDC. But the rate increased slightly between 2021 and 2022 from 11 births per 1,000 people to 11.1 births per 1,000 people.

The Economist reported that the the 15 largest countries by GDP all have fertility rates below the replacement rate –the number of children born per birthing person that would be needed to replace the current population.

The global fertility rate was 2.7 births per birthing person in 2000, slightly above the “replacement rate” of 2.1. In 2023, the fertility rate was 2.3 and declining.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.