The Children of Men-Japanese Style

Written by Susan Yoshihara. Posted in Demography, Population

I was edified to see the NY Times making the same point I have been emphasizing in my book talks: declinists have been saying for decades that America’s fiscal woes would finally topple its international primacy, and for decades, the declinists have got it wrong. The NYT OpEd notes that 20 years ago pessimists feared Japan would overtake the United States (in the 70s it was the USSR, today it is China).

Japan’s plummeting fertility is causing bizarre social consequences, some right out of P.D.Jame’s 1992 thriller about the last child born on earth, The Children of Men. Along with Japan’s economic woes, demographic decline is contributing to Japan’s suicide rate, which is second only to Russia’s (the next oldest nation on earth after Japan). The OpEd picks up on Nick Eberstadt’s essay in the Spring volume of the Wilson Quarterly, which I will blog on later.

One troubling aspect in this piece , which I found in another recent NYT OpEd, is the assertion that out of wedlock births as a positive factor in American demographic exceptionalism. As I emphasize in the book, the jury is out on that. There is evidence showing the fact could actually squander the demographic advantage.  The erosion of working values (correlated to intact families and extended families) could eventually erode worker productivity even if the workforce expands.

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