Dynamist Blog


On my many recent trips, I've had a chance to catch up on some reading, including the excellent latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine. Here's the lead of a review/article on why Japanese women won't get married:

Of all the problems Japan faces, the one bound to have the greatest effect on its future is not North Korea's budding nuclear program, its own unending recession, the dispatch of Japanese forces to a restive Iraq, or even the prospect of a new natural disaster like the earthquake that devastated Kobe in 1995. No, what really threatens Japan's future is the country's shrinking population and, more fundamentally, the astonishing disconnect between Japanese men and women that underlies it.

Though Japan's demographic problems may not be news, the figures are astounding. The number of children the average Japanese woman bears has declined almost continuously since peaking at four during the postwar baby boom. As of last year, it had fallen to 1.32--far below the rate required to maintain current population levels. In three years, Japan's population will crest at 127.5 million and then begin a long, slow slide to about half that level by 2100. The consequences for the economy--falling production, plunging land values, and soaring taxes--will be dire.

Even more troubling is the cluelessness of the men who run Japan about the cause of this demographic decline. They have never been interested in why Japanese women shun marriage and motherhood; in fact, when Japanese women point out the difficulties they face, men dismiss their complaints as a twittering of birds, unworthy of male attention.

The joys of traditional values.

Among the other articles: Fed Governor Ben Bernanke on the dangers of deflation and an examination of the growing role of anti-semitism in the antiglobalization movement (a trend that cries out for the ideological framework provided in The Future and Its Enemies).

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