Population Decline, Labor Force Stability, and the Future of the Japanese Economy

  • Robert L. Clark
  • Naohiro Ogawa
  • Makoto Kondo
  • Rikiya Matsukura


Demographic trends in Japan are producing a declining population that is rapidly growing older. With a total fertility rate of around 1.3 children per woman, the population has already begun to decline. This article examines the impact of these demographic trends on the level of employment and economic growth that Japan is projected to experience over the next 20 years. We explore the effect of changes in labor market policies on age-specific employment rates and assess whether innovative policies can moderate the decline in employment. Public policies encouraging increased employment of women and persons aged 60 and older could partially offset the anticipated decline in employment. The importance of the Japanese experience for European policy makers is discussed.


Low fertility Japan Population decline Population aging 


Les évolutions démographiques au Japon conduisent au déclin et au vieillissement de la population. Avec un indice synthétique de fécondité de 1,3, la population a déjà commencé à baisser. Cet article examine l’impact de ces évolutions démographiques sur les projections de taux d’emploi et de croissance économique des vingt prochaines années. Nous explorons les effets des changements des politiques du marché du travail sur les taux d’emploi par âge, avec un intérêt particulier pour le rôle des politiques novatrices comme facteur de modération de la baisse du taux d’emploi. Les politiques en faveur de l’emploi des femmes et des personnes de 60 ans et plus pourraient en partie contrebalancer la chute attendue du taux d’emploi. L’importance de l’expérience Japonaise comme matière à réflexion pour les décideurs en Europe est discutée.


Basse fécondité Japon Déclin de la population Vieillissement de la population 



The funding for this research was obtained by two grants from the National Institute of Health, NIA RO1-AG025488 and AG025247. This study was also supported by a grant obtained from the Nihon University Population Research Institute from the “Academic Frontier” Project for Private Universities: matching fund subsidy from MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), 2006–2010. Furthermore, the authors are grateful to the UNFPA (RAS5P203) and the Japan Medical Association for their financial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Clark
    • 1
  • Naohiro Ogawa
    • 2
  • Makoto Kondo
    • 3
  • Rikiya Matsukura
    • 2
  1. 1.College of ManagementNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Nihon University Population Research InstituteTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Kobe Gakuin UniversityKobeJapan

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