Thursday, July 04, 2013

Is Japan in trouble? Are we?

Discussions of the population problem have always had the capacity to stir up public sentiment much more than most other problems. - Gunnar Myrdal

I found the above quote on this blog about Japan's "aging population problem."
 In Japan, the average age is 46 years (and rising) and 25 percent of Japan's population is age 65 and up.  (Source: CIA World Factbook.) This fact is thought to imperil the economy and society since it implies a shrinking labour force and high dependency ratio, not to mention contracting demand.
Japan Population Pyramid (2006): Number of people in each five year age range

Compare Nigeria, median age 18, where only 3% of its population is over age 65.  Some people think we have a "growing population problem."  It's hard to push up per-capita income when the denominator (headcount) keeps growing so relentlessly that the NYTimes says "sub-Saharan Africa, which now accounts for 12 percent of the world’s population, [may] account for more than a third by 2100."  This Day presents a more local take in Nigeria's growing population might be a "time bomb."
Nigeria Population Pyramid (2006)
So now we have problematized low population growth rates as in Japan/Ukraine/Scandinavia, and on the other hand lament high population growth rate as in most of Africa.   Reminds one of the phrase "the problematics of government."  It's always something, ain't it? Modern policymaking is a business of solving problems (whereas I like a more "positive" approach, that appreciates and increases what's right - some zen shizzle I picked up in Cali.  For an example of how to do this, study the hopefulness in World Faces Aging Population Time Bomb, says UN - uh oh!)

Another quote from the same (Edward Hugh) Japan blog post
The future never resembles the past - as we well know. But, generally speaking, our imagination and our knowledge are too weak to tell us what particular changes to expect. We do not know what the future holds. Nevertheless, as living and moving beings, we are forced to act. - John Maynard Keynes

Our government might not be forced to act, but city-dwellers in Nigeria have already changed their behaviour in response to the strenuous costs of having children.  This is how someone put it: “Children were seen as a kind of insurance for the future; now they are a liability for life.”  Would you put it that way? 

2 comments:

Erik Donald France said...

Makes children sound like pets, except pets that may outlive their owners -- and then what?

t said...

Love the "outside" view. Around here, children are everything from: a measure of success, on the to-do list, little gods, little pets, companions, beautiful models, insurance policy, the purpose of life, a pain in the ass, an apprentice, a liability, ...

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