Entries in Population (5)


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


China's Census Shows Growing Gender Gap

George Doyle/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- The figures are in from China's 2010 census and the results are conclusive: China's gender imbalance is getting worse.

There were 118.08 males for every 100 females last year, up from 116.9 males for every 100 females in 2000, according to the 2010 census.

At the current rate, there will be 20 million more men than woman within the next couple of decades, officials said.

"The gender ratio imbalance can be attributed to multiple causes, including a traditional preference for sons, the practice of arranging for sons to take care of elderly parents, illegal sex-selective abortions and other factors," Deputy Minister of Health Liu Qian said at a news conference this week.

It has been 30 years since China introduced its one child policy, which restricts urban couples to having just one child.  The government says that strict family planning has helped prevent roughly 400 million additional births.

While the policy has helped China rein in explosive population growth, it has brought a new set of problems with it.  China's elderly population is expanding rapidly, while the younger labor force will start shrinking within a few years.

And then there's the gender imbalance, the result of a traditional preference for boys in China.  Sex-selective abortion is a huge problem across the country but now authorities are cracking down.

Earlier this week, the government released its new "Outline for the Development of Chinese Children (2011-2020)" which says that steps should be taken to "eliminate discrimination against girls" and to promote gender equity.

"Using ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination" should be strictly prohibited, it says, adding that doctors who are discovered to be carrying out sex-selective abortions will have their licenses stripped.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


World Population to Surpass 7 Billion in 2011

Getty(BOSTON, Mass) – There is a report out from the Harvard School of Public Health indicating that the world population is expected to surpass 7 billion by the end of 2011. The 6 billion mark was reached in 1999 and it’s expected that an additional 2.3 billion people will be added to the population by 2050 -- an increase by nearly as many people as the number that lived on the planet in the 1950s.

The reports predict that over the next forty years, nearly all of the 2.3 billion projected increase will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half in Africa. By contrast, the populations of more developed countries will remain flat, but will age, leaving fewer working-age adults to support the retirees living on social pensions.

This is especially notable when taking in to account how slowly the worlds population has grown for most of human history. It took until 1800 for the world’s population to hit one billion.

These sizable increases represent an unprecedented global demographic upheaval, according to David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health. In a review article published July 29th, 2011 in Science, Bloom writes that considerable uncertainty about these projections remains. Depending on whether the number of births per woman continues to decline, the ranges for 2050 vary from 8.1 to 10.6 billion, and the 2100 projections vary from 6.2 to 15.8 billion.

He writes, population trends indicate a shift in the "demographic center of gravity" from more to less developed regions. Already strained, many developing countries will likely face tremendous difficulties in supplying food, water, housing, and energy to their growing populations, with repercussions for health, security, and economic growth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


India: Get Sterilized and Win a New Car?

U.S. Department of State(JHUNJHUNU, India) -- With India's population poised to overtake China by 2030, health officials are desperate to put a halt to birthrates.

That's why they are starting a new campaign, offering prizes to Indians who volunteer to get sterilized.

According to the BBC, women and men who opt not to be fertile will be placed in a lottery where they will have a chance to win everything from a food blender to a television to a motorcycle.  The top prize being awarded is the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car.

Sitaram Sharma, the head doctor of the western Indian town of Jhunjunu, hopes that the prizes will lure at least 20,000 people to become sterilized, reports the BBC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Earth's Population to Reach Seven Billion in 2011

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The clock is ticking. The United Nations Population Division predicts that with about five babies born every second, the world will have seven billion people sometime late this year.

It was fewer than one billion in 1800, three billion in 1960, and six billion as recently 1999. The number keeps growing. The planet does not. Thomas Malthus famously predicted in 1798 that at some point, it would all be too much: starvation and disease would kill people more quickly than we can replace them.

But is this year's milestone cause for worry? Or just the opposite -- celebration?

"With the population still growing by about 80 million each year, it's hard not to be alarmed," writes Robert Kunzig, the author of National Geographic magazine's January cover story, "7 Billion." "Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day."

There is poverty more dire than most of us in America can imagine, but the growing population has not caused the world to collapse. Instead, we've conquered infectious diseases, learned how to grow more food, provided clean water even in crowded cities.

The much-discussed "population bomb" may yet go off, says Kunzig -- but so far it has not.

"Why did the population boom happen?," he asked in a telephone interview. "We conquered death. We saved a lot of children from dying."

What's more, though the world population continues to rise, the rate appears to be slowing. It is not because people are dying off; instead, it is because people have fewer children as they become wealthier. If babies are not dying of smallpox or cholera, their parents will need fewer just to keep the family farm going.

Already, in parts of Europe and East Asia, they worry about the opposite of a population explosion: not enough young people to support the growing number of retirees. Demographers say the average couple needs to have 2.1 children to keep the population steady. In western Europe, the actual number had dropped to 1.4 by the late 1990s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio