Friday, June 03, 2005

Japan's Low Birth Rate

The WSJ notes that the Japanese fertility rate fell to an average of 1.2888 children per woman in 2004 and its its population will likely drop by 10 million in 25 years.

I can quite understand why Japanese don't want their unique society diluted by using immigration to fix the problem. Germany, France and Holland with their large un-assimilated immigrant minorities are a horrible reminder of how that can fail.

I suspect that the US and UK models of active assimilation won't work in the Japanese culture. So, Japanese women will need to start having more babies. The WSJ suggests the problem:

...may be in part due to the fact that Japanese society is still not flexible enough to accommodate women who want both children and careers.

I'd go further: Japanese men (in particular) and women need to completely renegotiate their division of labor.

The wife of a Japanese friend of mine bemoaned the absence of grandchildren. Her two college educated daughters refused to marry because they did not want to end up stuck in featureless apartments raising the kids and only seeing their husbands at weekends.

That has to change and Japan has always showed a genius for change. Go to it!