Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Principle of Population

In my continuing concern over the politics of shrinking populations, I noticed this Break Point article by Chuck Colson -- "Japan's Unique Crime Problem," January 8, 2009.

Japan has a strikingly low crime rate for a tightly packed, industrialized country. But they are seeing an increase in "property crime such as shoplifting, pick pocketing, and embezzlement, but also a rise in violent crime." What makes this especially interesting however is the demographic group largely responsible for the mayhem--senior citizens.

Between 2000 and 2006, the number of Japanese over 70 charged with a crime more than tripled—to nearly 30,000 a year. Assaults have risen 17-fold and shoplifting and pick pocketing four-fold in the past decade. Even murder rates among the elderly are rising. All told, Japanese senior citizens were responsible for one in seven crimes, up from one in 50 in 1990.
The reason for this is Japan's plummeting birth rate.

An important part of the explanation lies in the increasing isolation of Japan’s elderly. Japan’s microscopic birthrate has produced an aging population with no one to care for it, whether children or paid caretakers. Japanese elderly are so starved for companionship that they buy talking dolls they think “are actual grandsons and granddaughters,” according to the manufacturer. Japan’s demographic collapse—the product of plummeting marriage and birth rates—has weakened the Japanese family and, with it, the entire society.

If we kill off our children, or radically restrict their number in other ways, and if we school them in selfishness when we do have them, we should not be surprised if we end up lonely and poor in our old age.

Break Point provides this reading list.

Silver-Haired Shoplifters On the Rise In Japan,” Washington Post, 30 November 2008.

Elderly Offenders on Rise,” Japan Times, 16 October 2008.

Justin Norrie, “Japan Tremor as Geriatrics Lead Crime Wave,” The, 3 May 2008.

A Day without Mexicans: Demographics in the Developing World,” BreakPoint Commentary, 11 June 2008.

Demographics and Prosperity: Demographic Winter and the Economy,” BreakPoint Commentary, 10 June 2008.

Demographic Winter: Where Have All the Children Gone?,” BreakPoint Commentary, 9 June 2008.


Roundhead said...

interesting read, thanks for the pointer.

Yet, for all the reality of declining populations during the course of this century, yesterday I read on the `Independent' web site (of the U.K.) someone comment about the threat of - overpopulation!

David C. Innes said...

People who are concerned about overpopulation should (a) have a look at the relationship between China's population control measures and their looming economic problems, and (b) move to Iowa.

Roundhead said...

yeah, I read somewhere a while ago that if the total settled area of the u.s. were placed contiguously (?), it would occupy no more than the average u.s. state.

one time, i was travelling through upper new york state.

I was able to contemplate that:

1 - this is the second most populous state in
2 - the third most populous country in the world (I believe)

but, I thought, where 'eck are all the people?

Benjamin Shaw said...

If you were to take the entire population of the world and put it all in Texas, the population density would still be less than that of New York City.