Aging Well in Japan

Elderly at Record Spurs Japan Stores Chase $1.4 Trillion – Bloomberg.

Adult diaper sales are at an all-time high in Japan; in fact, they have surpassed sales of baby diapers.  Why?  Because Japan is aging, and few women are choosing to have children.

Companies are rushing to grab a bigger chunk of the estimated 109 trillion yen ($1.4 trillion) that consumers over 60 spent in the year ended March 31 in Japan. The number of Japanese over 65 hit a record 23.3 percent of the population in October.

Japan has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates – 1.39 per women.  The US rate is 1.93.  Replacement rate, where the population neither grows nor shrinks, is 2.1.

Unicharm, Japan’s largest diaper maker, said the lessons it’s learning in Japan will help its expansion in China, where the population at or above 65 rose to 8.87 percent of the total as of Nov. 1, 2010, up 1.91 percentage points from the 2000 census. China introduced a one-child policy in 1979 to curb population growth.

How will Japan replace retiring workers?  Who will care for (and pay for) the growing numbers of elderly people?  And why does it matter?

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