Business

Japan Shrinks by 500,000 People as Births Fall to Lowest Number Since 1874

But the incentives are proving insufficient as more people in Japan are putting off childbirth — or not having children at all — to take advantage of economic opportunities. Or conversely, because they are worried that economic opportunities do not exist, and they cannot afford children.

Even for those who do want to be parents, however, the hurdles remain daunting.

Demand for day care in the country far outstrips supply, making it difficult for working mothers to juggle their careers and their children. And working fathers who want to take advantage of the country’s generous paternity leave can find themselves stigmatized by an entrenched cultural belief that a man’s place is in the office, not in the home.

Adding to the government’s worries, marriage is on the decline. The number of marriages dropped by 3,000 year-on-year to 583,000, according to the data released Tuesday, part of a steep decline over the last decade.

As births continue to drop, Japan has tried to promote robots as a supplement for its shrinking work force.

It has also committed to accepting limited numbers of immigrants to handle vital work such as caring for the elderly. This year the country began issuing more than a quarter million visas to immigrants who will do such work.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/24/world/asia/japan-birthrate-shrink.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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