[I-House Press] Shrinking-Population Economics: Lessons from Japan

Shrinking-Population Economics: Lessons from Japan
By Matsutani Akihiko (Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)

Translated by Brian Miller
2006 / Second edition
214 pages / paperback
ISBN 4-903452-03-4
Originally published in Japanese in 2004 by Nihon Keizai Shimbun as Jinko Gensho Keizai no Atarashii Koshiki.
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Japan’s population has been aging for years. And now it is shrinking. A smaller and older workforce will mean a decline in productive potential. Declining tax revenues will starve already-strapped municipalities. Regions and industries accustomed to subsisting on public works spending will lose their traditional grubstakes. Japan’s pension and health insurance programs will become unviable.

Akihiko Matsutani offers a refreshingly informed and far-reaching account of the economic and social implications of the demographic change under way in Japan. He exposes the futility of widely proposed measures for forestalling population and economic shrinkage, such as encouraging larger families and encouraging an influx of foreign workers. Matsutani urges Japanese, instead, to learn to live with a smaller, older population. Most strikingly, he argues persuasively that population shrinkage and aging promise to redress the great tragedy of Japan’s postwar economic surge: the failure of economic growth to deliver commensurate improvement in the quality of life.