East Asian societies have the world’s lowest birth rates—and are learning that ‘throwing a bit of money’ at the problem isn’t solving anything

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finance.yahoo.com (12.03.2024) Governments across Asia—in Singapore and Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul—are facing a crisis: plummeting birth rates. For several decades now, people in East Asian economies have had fewer and fewer children. Last year, South Korea beat its own record for having the world’s lowest birth rate, reporting 0.72 births per woman for 2023, down from 0.78 in 2022. Singapore reported 0.97 births per woman, the first time the rate has fallen below one. Japan has one of the world’s oldest populations, with a median age of 49.5. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China are all reporting falling birth rates as well. All of these economies have fertility rates far below 2.1, the “replacement rate” which allows for a stable population. They haven’t reported a rate above 2.1 for years, if not decades. A low birth rate leads to a shrinking population, and a smaller workforce to produce the goods and services that lead to economic growth. Slower economic activity results in drops in fiscal revenue, giving fewer resources to a government that now needs to provide welfare for a growing elderly population.

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