Demographic Transition in Japan: Causes and Consequences
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Japan, like many other industrialized countries, is suffering from a declining fertility rate. Japan's fertility problems have far-reaching explanations and implications that are both economic and sociological. A clear analysis cannot look at this issue from only one point of view. There are many intersecting and contradicting movements and policies that have brought about this crisis and there are likely to be just as many consequences. This essay will begin with a brief history of the demographic transition occurring throughout the developed world. It will explore the causes of falling fertility in developed nations in general and Japan specifically. This will include both sociological and economic causes for lower marriage fertility rates. After a discussion of the causes there will be a description of the consequences which includes stresses on pension and health care systems. Finally it will discuss the possible policy prescriptions regarding how to pay for the increased demands upon the healthcare and pension systems caused by the elderly and how to lessen their lasting economic drain.