Will We Live in a Dollhouse in the Future?
For the sixth straight year, the U.S. birthrate declined in 2020 and has fallen 20% since 2007. In addition, more restrictive immigration policies capped population growth as well. Recently released Census Bureau population estimates show that from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020, the nation grew by just 0.35%. This is the lowest annual growth rate since at least 1900.
Japan is the “grayest” nation in the world, with close to 30% of the population over 65. The reason is its low birthrate, which has caused the population to contract since 2007. In the next 30 years, this country of 126 million people is expected to drop to under 100 million. The contracting population in Japan poses a serious threat to the country’s economic vitality and the security of its social safety net.
For a window into our own future, I recently listened to The Daily podcast that featured the story of a small, childless village in rural Japan where two dozen adults compensate for the absence of young people with hundreds of life-size handmade dolls. Cute, but eerie.
When you factor in the growing percentage of Millennials who say they are delaying any childbirth decision due to Covid, along with all those “birth-strikers” who refuse to procreate in the face of the existential threat of climate change, we may need to start getting used to playing with dolls ourselves. And, of course, there’s the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement whose motto is “May we live long and die out.” Not exactly Hallmark!
But, on a bright note: for those of you who think there won’t be jobs available for you at age 65, think again. In fact, we may need to get used to a 2% unemployment rate (a typical year in Japan).