The incredible shrinking country
A QUIET but constant ticking can be heard from the demographic time bomb that sits beneath the world’s third-largest economy. This week it made a louder tick than usual: official statistics show that the population declined last year by a record 244,000 people—roughly the population of the London borough of Hackney.
Japan’s population began falling in 2004 and is now ageing faster than any other on the planet. More than 22% of Japanese are already 65 or older. A report compiled with the government’s co-operation two years ago warned that by 2060 the number of Japanese will have fallen from 127m to about 87m, of whom almost 40% will be 65 or older.
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The key question is whether this is a bad thing or not. Do countries always need to grow?
Or is there a model in which an aging population can be productive rather than be seen as a burden.