April 6, 2010

A solution for aging population

Aging population is an issue for Japan everyone knows it. People live longer meanwhile the number of infants decline. In one way or another this topic comes up every day. An article from BBC: Japan mayor sets paternity leave 'example' points out well one of the causes of decreasing population.

At work we are encouraged and preached upon to bring solutions for it. Indeed, many seem to put a lot of effort in finding a resolution but a little progress can be seen and overall the problem hasn't gone anywhere.

While making my way in the train I met one the professors who used to teach us at the faculty of economics. When I inquired about a resolution for aging population issue he replied with a expression of worry in his face,
"I don't think there's a solution but surely a rapid decline would cause heaps of problems."
For the future, he said, "I prefer a slow decline. It could be somehow managed".

So why aren't people making babies any more? They used to make them easily in the past. Perhaps raising a family has become too difficult. The circumstances have changed by time to unfavorable for having a family. It's just too demanding and expensive. Yes, bringing up even one child requires lofty savings (or at least many believe so). But is it really only about having sufficient savings?

I believe that actually the time spent gathering savings slowly lowers the changes to have a family. A great number of Japanese work from early morning to late evening in order to get paid and to build up savings. At the end of the day most of the precious time has been given to the company and none to having a family. What can we conclude from this?

Although the companies play a role in providing livelihood they seem to hinder family planning. The company becomes priority number one, consumes all the time and eventually pushes family aside. Let’s take for example our company. Ironically here we sit next to our desktops picking our brains for ideas on how to deal with aging population, many until as late as 11 pm. Instead of trying to think a solution how about being the solution. Stand up, get out and make some babies!

On the first thought it may seem a difficult mission as the question of money and time arises. But in long term, if Japanese desire to save their own future (e.g. having young people to pay pension when retired), and avoid steeper decline in population, the companies are obligated to give their workers time to create some life.

Think of having a family as investment to the future. At first, the times will be though but making a family will become easier and pay off in the long run. So re-prioritize; take time out from work, stop thinking about whether right now is a perfect time or not! Behold, here's the solution: reproduce!

Not feeling encouraged yet?

Well, the solution may not be that straightforward. To be very frank, I'm not too eager to see a solution for the aging population issue. In the eyes of Finn, Japan has been overcrowded for a long time, too many people trying to make a living in an island that is too small for them. As a positive aspect, decreasing population could gradually revitalize Japan. Not maybe economically but in terms of human wellbeing.

Agreeing or disagreeing?

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