This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Demography Rules Christmas in Japan

OK, full disclosure, I have not been to Japan at Christmas, but the internet news sources indicate that the Japanese, who are almost entirely not Christian, celebrate Christmas as a commercial, but obviously not a religious holiday. Christmas Eve is apparently a time for gift-giving among families, in particular. Now, here's the punch line to the story. If you are the practical kind of person who gives someone what they need, instead of what they want, diapers for older people will outsell diapers for kids. I'm not making this up. This comes from Andrew Revkin's blog for the New York Times:
Tokyo is still mostly a bustling, crowded supercity. But the quiet and emptiness I saw with my son this fall in the greenway adjacent to the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo could be more commonplace later in this century given the aging of the Japanese population. Indeed, a recent government study, cited last year in the Wall Street Journal’s Japan blog, projected that the city population “will peak at 13.35 million in 2020 — then drop steadily to 7.13 million in the year 2100.”
But the indicator of demographic shifts that got me writing today was a diaper trend noted by my longtime contact on population and immigration, Joseph Chamie. Here’s an excerpt from the Asahi Shimbun article he forwarded:

As Japan’s birthrate declines and its population ages, the country’s future can be foreseen in diaper sales.
Over the past decade, production of adult diapers, essential for caring for the elderly, has doubled in Japan.
Unicharm Corp., a major diaper maker, saw sales of adult diapers outpace infant diapers in the last fiscal year ending March 31, while forecasts indicate the same will happen throughout the industry over the next few years.
At an outlet of Tomod’s drugstore in Kawasaki, infant and adult diapers take up roughly the same amount of shelf space.
And, by the way, Joseph Chamie isn't just somebody. He is the former Director of the United Nations Population Division, so in fact we do pay attention when he says something like this.

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