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All wealthy countries to face a fertility crisis


The world is fixated with Japan’s declining population. Japan is to the fertility crisis what the low-lying Pacific Islands are to the environmental crisis.

A record low of 1.26 was set in 2005, and it has since risen to 1.3 in 2021.


Japan’s low fertility rate is not an outlier among rich countries. Birth rates fell throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with the “1.57 Shock” occurring at the peak of the country’s economic might.

Okinawa, the poorest region of the country, consistently has the highest rate, while wealthy Tokyo has the lowest.

Almost every country in Europe falls short of the 2.1 level required to sustain the population. Japan may have its own quirks, but given the large number of countries with persistently low fertility, each country achieves low fertility in its own unique way, according to Myrskyla.

He cites countries in Europe such as Italy, Germany, Finland, and Hungary, where gender norms and public support for working mothers vary greatly, but the TFR remains consistently low.

Japan’s policy mix has gradually shifted away from changing people’s minds about marriage and children and toward assisting those who lack opportunities.