Japan's Demographic Death Rattle In 3 Charts And 333 Words

Tyler Durden's picture

Courtesy of Bloomberg's Michael McDonough, here is how the end game for demographically defunct, deflationary debt holes such as Japan looks like extrapolated into the future. And for the time-strapped it is condensed into 333 words and 3 charts.

Via Bloomberg Brief:

In less than two years, more than one in four Japanese citizens will be over the age of 65, up from one in five in 2006 and one in 10 in 1985. The proportion of the population over 65 is expected to swell to 30 percent by 2022 and to 40 percent by 2050, according to government estimates. This will put the country as a whole in the demographic range of the prefectures that experienced the sharpest declines in growth in the decade ended 2009.

Fewer workers and less labor will reduce the potential output of the Japanese economy, which will increase the country’s reliance on imports as retirees continue to spend, inhibiting GDP growth. The rising number of retirees will strain the government’s welfare programs and the country’s pension funds, which have been major buyers of government bonds. Japan already maintains the world’s second-largest debt load in nominal terms at more than $13.7 trillion and growing.

The government sees this problem. Last week, Japan’s lower house of parliament passed a bill giving private-sector workers the right to remain at their jobs until the age of 65, rather than the current 60.

Japan’s demographics will also likely have an impact on consumer behavior. Japanese consumers older than 65 are less likely to shop for alcohol, clothing, books and electronics compared with younger consumers, according to a McKinsey survey from 2011. The average senior shops for books and clothing 38 and 35 times per year, respectively, compared with 73 and 58 times for people between the ages of 18 and 34. The only item seniors shop for more frequently than younger consumers is food, McKinsey found.

How Japan faces its demographic challenges over the next several decades may provide important lessons for countries
such as China, which has a rapidly increasing senior population due largely to the one-child policy. People over 65 account for nearly 10 percent of the population in China — similar to Japan in 1985 — up from 6 percent 20 years ago.