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Metabolizing Japan, the World's Oldest Nation

MIN READAug 30, 2016 | 08:01 GMT

An aging population and a shrinking workforce will force Japan to innovate to overcome its economic malaise. But the island nation has shown time and again that it is capable of great feats under pressure.

(YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Tackling the roots of demographic decline is no easy task. Population growth is considered stable at a 2.1 total fertility rate, meaning mom and dad are producing enough offspring at least to replace themselves. But a more urbanized world means a higher cost of living and tighter living quarters, leaving less physical and financial room to seat a big family around the dinner table. And as more women seek higher education and professional careers, childbearing gets put off until an age when fertility drops. Add to this picture longer life expectancy enabled by advancements in medicine and technology, and you have yourself a demographic crunch. If any country knows this problem well, it is Japan, with a total fertility rate of 1.4 births per woman (compared with 1.9 for the United States, 1.6 for China, 1.4 for Germany and 1.2 for South Korea). With 26.3 percent of its population at 65...

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