Japan As a Shrinking Society: What Is the Condition for Recovering the Replacement Level of Fertility?

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 12:30 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Toshihiko HARA , School of Design, Sapporo City University, Sapporo, Japan

 This paper focuses on the phenomenon of shrinking society emerging in Japan and its sociological meanings, such as the possible historical consequence of demographic transition from high birth and death rates to low ones. First, we used the Historical Statistics of Japan (Statistics Bureau and the Director General for Policy Planning of Japan, 2006) and Population Projections for Japan (National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, January 2012) to show the past and future development of the dependency ratio from 1891 to 2100. Second, utilizing the life table population and Net Reproduction Rate (NRR), we observed separately the effects of the increasing life expectancy and declining fertility on the dependency ratio. Finally, we analyzed the historical relations among women’s survival rates at reproductive age, the theoretical fertility rate for maintaining the reproductive level (NRR = 1), and the recorded Total Fertility Rate (TFR). Important findings are as follows. (1) The effects of the rising longevity on the dependency ratios were stable until the average life expectancy reached around 70 years. When women’s survival rates at reproductive age reached almost the maximum level near 100%, the dependency ratio began to grow swiftly according to the extension of life expectancy. (2) Historical observation showed TFR as adapting to the theoretical level of fertility (NRR = 1) at a certain time lag and corresponding with women’s survival rates at reproductive age. (3) For women, their expanding lifespan and survival rates at reproductive age could have influenced reproductive decision making to minimize the risk of childbearing; even if the theoretical fertility rate meets the reproductive level, women’s views may remain unchanged. In Japan, fertility is lower than the replacement level because women’s cost-benefit imbalance for childbearing is too high.