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, February 10, 2014

Is This How the Japanese Keep the Birth Rate Low?

My thanks to Duane Miller for pointing me to a great news story about sex--or really the lack thereof--in Japan. The point of the story is that the Japanese of reproductive age are forsaking sex, and that this helps to explain the low birth rate. The source of the story is Russia Today--"a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark."
Almost everywhere you look, it seems that sex sells - TV, films, music. But, in Japan, thousands of people are being turned off. Alexey Yaroshevsky explains why the Japanese are getting bored in the bedroom.
Keep in mind, though, that Japan did not approve the use of the pill for contraception until 1999 and even now it seems that Japanese women are less likely to use it than are women in most other developed nations. This may be partly because the pill is lower dosage than in most countries and there is a tendency to use condoms and then resort to abortion if that fails. Since men in general prefer not to use condoms, all things being equal, and since the burden of abortion falls only on the woman, abstinence may not look so bad to Japanese women.


  1. Hi Dr Weeks,

    Glad you enjoyed this story. I certainly found it interesting. It's not in your area of expertise but my doctoral thesis (on ex-Muslim Christians) is now completed and available for anyone interested:

    Do let me point out that religious and conversion does have demographic implications some times. For instance, the largest movement from Islam to Christianity to date was in the 60's and 70's in Indonesia. With offspring and all we are looking at close to two million people who were or would have been Muslims, but are not Christians.

    The second largest movement is among Iranians, who count some hundreds of thousands converts dating back to 1979 Revolution. The third largest that I know of is in Algeria and other parts of N Africa. Here we are talking about tens of thousands.

    I don't know anyone who has looked at the connection of demography to religious conversion in the contemporary world.

    Duane A. Miller
    Professor of Theology
    St Mary's University
    San Antonio, Texas

    1. Congratulations on completing your doctoral dissertation! I agree that little, if any, literature exists on the demographic causes or consequences of religious conversion. My own view has always been that the strongest demographic relationships are found with respect to "religiosity" (the strength of one's religious beliefs) rather than the specific religion per se. The literature does seem to support that idea, but it doesn't speak specifically to conversion.