An evaluation of fertility- and migration-based policy responses to Japan's ageing population.

Research paper by Alexander J Q AJQ Parsons, Stuart S Gilmour

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: PloS one


Japan's ongoing struggle with rapid ageing is well known. Fertility and migration policies have both been proposed as solutions to Japan's ageing population. We used stock flow population models to estimate the impact of hypothetical fertility and migration policy interventions on measures of aging in Japan from 2015 to 2050. We evaluated policy models based on the Old Age Dependency Ratio (OADR) they produced at the specified end date. Start dates ranged from 2020 to 2030 to assess the time horizons of individual policies. Fertility policies were found to be highly time dependent and only slowed the rate of increase of OADR. It would require a Total Fertility Rate far above replacement levels to compensate for Japan's already aged demography. Migration policy was less time dependent. However, such measures would require unprecedented, and ultimately unrealistic, volumes of migration over coming decades in order to reduce Japan's OADR. Our results suggest that fertility and migration based policy responses will be unable to significantly reduce Japan's OADR or reverse Japan's ageing population within the next few decades. Japan should focus on activating its human capital through the prolongation of working lives, increasing participation, and improving productivity within the Japanese labour force to mitigate and adapt to the inevitable effects of ageing populations.