Japan – A country with a high dependent population
Japan has a declining population. The population pyramid below shows the age-gender structure of Japan’s population. Japan has a large proportion of elderly people, above 60, and a declining youth population.
There is an increasing proportion of elderly dependents in Japan. The proportion of elderly dependents is increasing due to an increase in life expectancy. This is likely to cause a number of problems for Japan, including:
- increased pressure on health and social care services
- financial pressure to provide pensions to a greater number of people
- increased pressure on public transport as elderly people are less likely to drive
- the need to increase tax rates to cover the costs above
An additional problem facing Japan is its declining birth rate. Fewer women are having babies due to changes in lifestyle. Having fewer children, later in life, leads to a better standard of living. Also, more young people are focussing on their careers rather than having children.
If this trend continues the working population of Japan will not be able to support its ageing population. The result of this will be:
- higher tax rates to cover increased medical costs and pensions
- a declining population
- a negative impact on economic development in Japan as there are fewer people of working age
To overcome this Japan may need to encourage migration to increase the size of its workforce. Alternatively, Japan could take steps to increase its birthrate by offering financial incentives to encourage couples to have children. Without taking measures the population will continue to decline.
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