Japan's Aging Population – Adult Diaper Sales Surge

Not like Fukushima isn’t a large enough problem for Japan ( and the rest of the world for that matter ) but unfortunately……..it’s only a “near term concern”.

Originally triggered by a “massive baby boom” post World War II, the demographics of Japan have evolved into something pretty unusual. The combination of long life expectancy and extremely low birth rate (one of  the lowest of all developed nations ) has resulted in a rapidly aging population, such that currently “one in every four citizens” is over the age of 65.

According to Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, it will be “one in three people” in Japan to be aged above 65 by the year 2030.

There will be more people “over the age of 60” than “under the age of 14” by 2020, with more diapers being sold for adults than for babies.

Japan’s rapidly aging population and low investment returns are driving a decline in savings and wealth ( as retirees now “spend” their savings as opposed to grow them ) dramatically reducing the amount of capital available to fuel the economy.

Since 1981 Japan has produced enough savings to finance its domestic investment needs “and” still export savings as well. But as Japan grows older and it’s savings pool shrinks they will surely become a “net borrower” – meaning…..yet another “purchaser of U.S Debt” will likely stop buying and put even “more pressure” on the economic situation in the U.S.

“You ain’t investing in no U.S Treasury Bonds when your primary concern is maintaining a reasonable quality of life in your later years.”

Is it any wonder we see Japan taking such drastic steps ( via currency debasement / QE etc..) to promote growth and bolster their economy?

A work force that is generally “drying up” ……………and taking their life savings along with them.

12 Responses

  1. JSkogs December 9, 2013 / 10:20 am

    Great post! I like this kinda material. Thanks Kong

    • Andre December 9, 2013 / 11:52 pm

      QE/currency debasement has absolutely nothing to do with economic growth. I does lead to nominal GDP growth, because of how GDP is calculated, but not to an actual improvement in the standard of living. I very much doubt anyone engaged in this practice is under the illusion that it can do anything for the “economy” as such. They are engaged in this for the simple fact that it is no longer possible to trick enough people to finance the budget deficit and between corruption and outright insanity, there is not enough support for austerity measures. Perhaps they simply realize there is no point planning for the future. It is the exact same problem in the US and in Britain. QE has nothing to do with the economy, it is a means to appease the political class.

      • Andre December 10, 2013 / 12:10 am

        One thing people neglect to consider is the effect that the aging in Europe and Asia is going to have on migratory patterns. When few young men have to carry the burden of supporting a great number of dependents, do people really think they are going to stay on the plantation? No, they will seek to move away from the burden. So be bullish on countries where a young man can still build a life for himself. The wave has already started but it will grow. If you can find a country that is well placed to receive this wave, let me know, because that is the country that is going to prosper the most in the next 10 to 20 years.

  2. TC December 10, 2013 / 4:32 am

    Young people head for the Cities where jobs congregate. People with jobs will still have to pay taxes. But it’s the older folks (if they haven’t built a comfortable nest by the time they retire) that will be moving out of the Cities onto cheaper suburbs. Instead of betting on this migratory pattern, perhaps it will make more sense to bet on productivity since that will be the basis of growth.

    • Andre December 10, 2013 / 7:33 am

      I’m not talking about migration within a country, I’m talking about migration between countries. I’m talking about young people fleeing the plantation where they are expected to work to support the elderly who didn’t actually invest for their retirement. I’m talking about greeks and spaniards fleeing to Germany and eventually perhaps fleeing from Europe entirely. If a young man in Japan has to support 5 dependents with his productivity if he stays in Japan but only has to support himself if he moves to Dubai, how long until he decides the benefits of staying in Japan are not worth the cost? At which point the other young man left has to support 6 dependents and decides he rather move to Australia. And so the downward spiral goes until either the elderly starve to death or force radical change in policies. The jobs are going to where the cost is lowest, and a major factor of that cost is state support for dependents. This may actually be a key factor in the rise of China and the decline of manufacturing in the west, the “baby boom” there resulted in a major demographic shift towards young men, and the welfare state, despite being a communist country, is rather thin.

  3. TC December 10, 2013 / 8:30 am

    Exactly, migration is international especially in this day and age. And the key Cities (aggregation of jobs) and low costs centers will spawn, becoming bigger Cities. So, if you want to bet on a Country, it’s the one with the most number of such Cities. I’m just breaking it down to its drivers.
    China, being a vast country, has great potentials ; but it definitely has its set of demographics issues – the aging population will catch up before wealth is spread throughout the country at the current rate. There will of course be solutions to every problem if people are creative enough.

    • Andre December 10, 2013 / 10:32 am

      And which country is that?

  4. brosbhos December 10, 2013 / 6:03 pm

    I’m sorry but i’m not sure i understand this: old people spending their savings, ain’t that good for the economy? A wealth transfer from the old to the younguns if you will?
    I buy my new nintendo 100JPY, 40 go to the State, 5 (margin) to the company owner, 5 in salary, the rest in cost of doing business (feel free to replace the numbers by any that would suit you). How is that bad?

    I do understand less savings means less buying power of domestic and foreign (US) debt and its consequences. Your analysis makes sense.

    I also understand if they grow their savings then at their death it goes back somehow into the economy, which is better than less savings because spent earlier on material products. Still, i fail to see how spending is not a fuel for the economy.

    • Forex Kong December 10, 2013 / 6:20 pm

      Economic “growth” needs new car sales moving higher, housing markets booming with new young families starting out, spontanious “impulse” purchases of jewlery, travel, restaurants , new business development etc…..

      Not adult diapers and walking sticks.

      In my view…the rapidly aging population of Japan is a “drain on economic growth” not a contributor.

      • Andre December 10, 2013 / 9:23 pm

        A simpler answer is this: the old people don’t have that much in real savings. That means they spend without contributing anything to the people they are buying from. JGBs are not wealth. If that could generate economic growth, then fuck, print me a few trillion and I’ll save the global economy.

  5. brosbhos December 10, 2013 / 6:05 pm

    2nd comment because 2nd idea:
    Don’t neglect the natural disaster possibility. It is still unclear how fukushima has impacted the health of the population. Maybe they will all die sooner than later. Or another typhoon or earthquake or godzilla.

    Nature has a habit or balancing things out at the planet scale… War, virus, natural disasters… You name it.

    • Forex Kong December 10, 2013 / 6:26 pm

      The matter fact is – Fukushima “already is” the “disaster of all disasters” as the “gag order law” should be sufficient evidence unto itself no?

      300 tonnes of contamination per day 2 years running – with expected clean up ( if that’s even possible ) now stretching 40 years out!

      And that’s “if” IF – they don’t drop a single fuel rod AND earthquakes in the area suddenly “disapear”.

      If it’s a number’s game who in there right mind would be betting on “everything is gonna just be fine”?

      I guess you can’t place a bet with your head pushed that deep underneath the sand.

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