"The Demographic Dilemma: Japanís Aging Society" has just been published by the Woodrow Wilson Center's Asia Program. The report contains three papers from a panel that was held in Washington on October 31.
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The contributors are: Paul Hewitt, CSIS Global Aging Initiative Program; John Creighton Campbell, University of Michigan; and Chikako Usui, University of Missouri at St. Louis. The editor is Amy McCreedy, Program Associate, Wilson Center.
Japan is the most rapidly aging country in the world: By
2005, one-fifth of the population will be aged 65 years or older.
Should the demographic dilemma be termed a "crisis," or is it a
manageable problem for Japanese policy makers? The three contributors to this Special Report give very different answers.
According to Paul Hewitt, the aging society puts Japan at risk of collapse. A major economic crisis, with worldwide consequences, will be
difficult to avoid, since negative trends are reinforcing
each other. By constrast, John Creighton Campbell does not see aging as a major cause of Japanís current slump or a necessary obstacle to future prosperity. The gradual nature of demographic change will allow Japan to adjust, Campbell maintains. Chikako Usui of the University of Missouri at St. Louis sees increased productivity as the key to Japanís economic revitalization. By making the transition to a more
effiicent,information-based economy, Japan will be able to use the
skills of both young and old to weather the challenges of the coming
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