(TOKYO) -- The Japanese could be in for a lonely future. New numbers from an upcoming census paint a grim picture for the aging country.
Researchers predict the upcoming census will show the number of single homes surpassed those with families for the first time. Nearly a quarter of Japanese are already over the age of 65. The country saw a record number of deaths last year, while the population decrease reached historic figures.
Experts say the issue will only get worse. They call it the "2030 problem," a spike in the number of single homes over the next 20 years. Many Japanese are opting to stay single, but others have been forced to live alone because of divorce or death. In a few decades, nearly 40 percent of people in their 50s and 60s are expected to fit that mold.
The Japanese government has come up with programs to encourage marriage; they've even handed out child allowances to ease the financial burden of raising children. But that has not necessarily led to a spike in birthrates or marriages. Last year, roughly 700,000 couples got married -- the lowest in more than half a century.
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