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What effect will shrinking societies have?

A Japanese woman's role in society is to give birth, and "all we can do is ask them to do their best per head," said Hakuo Yanagisawa, Japan's former health minister. His remark, as reported by Bloomberg in 2007, drew criticism for being sexist, but it touches on one of Japan's most pressing issues: its rapidly aging and shrinking population.

Japan is expected to see its population contract by one-fourth to 95.2 million by 2050, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based research group, making it the fastest-shrinking country in the world.Former Eastern Bloc nations Ukraine and Georgia came in second and third, respectively, in a ranking of more than 200 countries by based on the Population Reference Bureau's 2010 World Population Data Sheet.

These countries defy the global trend -- but that doesn't mean they'll be spared problems of their own.


Asked by sweet-a-kins at 9:40 AM on Aug. 13, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

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Answers (6)
  • Can this planet even handle over 9 BILLION people? We seem to be struggling enough with 6 billion..

    Answer by ToriBabe1221 at 10:07 AM on Aug. 13, 2010

  • Well either way.. what can we do? lol... Force everyone to have more kids? To have less kids? .... Nope..
    But to help earth out we can stop doing so much damage to her & stop being consumerist! Reduce.Reuse.Recycle.

    Answer by MommaTasha1003 at 10:49 AM on Aug. 13, 2010


    These countries defy the global trend -- but that doesn't mean they'll be spared problems of their own. The world population is expected to expand by 37 percent to 9.5 billion in 2050, according to the report, but growth will not be evenly distributed. Developing countries will grow the most, with the pop in Africa expected to double.



    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 9:41 AM on Aug. 13, 2010

  • If the population shrinks very slowly, it's not a big deal, it could be a positive. But if it shrinks quickly, it can be an economic disaster.

    Answer by SWasson at 10:32 AM on Aug. 13, 2010

  • What can we do?

    We can value giving life to the next generation just as much as we value fulfilling our career goals. We can value TRULY feminist qualities, as in the power of being a woman, as much as we value what the feminists exhort us to value - which is all the qualities we find in men.

    I got tired of accepting that things I was good at, that things I loved to do, that my wisdom and experience were less valuable because they were not what a male businessman would use to succeed in selling a product to a customer.

    Having children and raising them to be loving, powerful adults is the greatest contribution ANYONE, man or woman, can possibly give the world.

    And women are the only ones who can actually give life.

    That's huge. That's amazing.

    That's worth a little self-sacrifice.

    Answer by waldorfmom at 4:08 AM on Aug. 14, 2010

  • Sorry, MommaTasha, I picked up your phrase as a springboard, but my comment was not at all directed at you. I have been aware of this trend among the better-educated women of all societies to have fewer and fewer children, and my comment was directed at them and at the mind-set which is causing this trend.

    What effect will shrinking societies have is actually a question of what kinds of people will the children of shrinking societies BE?

    Because unless epidemic infertility is creating a drop in the birthrate, the fact is that women are choosing not to be mothers. And that arises from a less giving, more selfish mind-set in that society. ... which must result in children raised with similar values.

    When combined with the financial stresses of a disproportionately aging population, selfishness will spawn some really ugly societal trends. ... We already see a lot of that with too many of America's elderly put into "homes".

    Answer by waldorfmom at 4:17 AM on Aug. 14, 2010