Entries in Life Expectancy (3)


Japan’s Population to Shrink Nearly a Third by 2060

Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc(TOKYO) -- The world’s oldest country is about to get even older.

New figures released by the Japanese government estimate people aged 65 and older will make up nearly 40 percent of the population of Japan 50 years from now.  Even more troubling, the country’s population is expected to shrink by 30 percent, with birth rates showing little signs of improvement.

The forecast, conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research every five years, paints a dire picture of Japan at a time when the country is already struggling to support its elderly -- roughly a quarter of the population -- amid a shrinking workforce.

In the last few decades, Japan’s social security budget has soared 15 percent, an increase of 1 trillion yen per year.  Fifty years ago, there were a dozen workers for every social security retiree.  Fifty years from now, there will just be one.

Complicating the issue, is Japan’s dismal birthrate.  Young workers have increasingly become reluctant to start families because of financial concerns.  Women are putting off marriage altogether, worried it could tie down their careers.  On average, Japanese women have 1.4 children.  That number is 1.9 for U.S. women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, researchers say the study released Monday shows the rate of population decline has slowed slightly, compared to estimates released five years ago.

There is one number that continues to go up though: Japan’s life expectancy.  Already the highest in the world, researchers estimate life expectancy for Japanese women will increase from 86 to 91 over the next half century.  The number is expected to rise from 79 to 84, for men.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Reveals People Living Longer in Afghanistan

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The life expectancies in Afghanistan for the general population, new mothers, and young children remain grim, but have grown markedly better over the past several years, according to a new government study.

The Afghanistan Mortality Survey released Wednesday finds the life expectancy for men and women is now between 62 and 64, compared to a United Nations report in 2009 that put those ages between 47 and 50.

Meanwhile, 500 women died per 100,000 live births in 2010, down from 1,800 deaths in 2005.  Child mortality rates have also dropped to one death per 10 children under five-years-old.  Five years ago, that figure was closer to two deaths per 10 youngsters.

Better and more available medical care is the chief reason for the improvements.  Health facilities have expanded from 450 in 2003 to 1,800 by this year.  The number of trained midwives in Afghanistan has also jumped dramatically.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan's High Life Expectancy Rate on the Decline?

Imagewerks/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- When it comes to longevity, the Japanese have long been number one.

On average, men there live until they're 79 years old, and women until they're 86.

Healthy living is a source of national pride in the Land of the Rising Sun, but a new study says the life expectancy of Japanese are shrinking.  The report, published in the British Medical Journal, says suicides and smoking are on the rise, and that means longevity is on the decline.

Author Dr. Christopher Murphy attributes the health problems to major financial and social challenges facing the country, including economic stagnation, political turmoil, and an aging population. Dr. Murphy, affiliated with the University of Washington, says it's all taking a toll, by increasing the population's stress levels, tobacco use, and overall anxiety. Japan's public health system isn't addressing the problems, and that's leading to the country's slow decline.

Japanese health care has long been seen as the perfect model.  Infant mortality and infectious diseases declined for decades following World War II.  The system managed to provide universal health coverage for a relatively low price, and the culture taught people to treat health as a social responsibility, not just a personal issue.

But Japan is changing.  The rapidly aging population has made the country the oldest in the world, where the average age is 40 years old. Some of those who don't die of old age take their own lives out of depression in increasing numbers.

At least 30,000 have committed suicide annually for the last 13 years.  The study says that number will continue to increase unless the public health system acts soon. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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