The “hard to get good help” crowd continue to dominate reporting at the Washington Post. An article on Japan’s efforts to facilitate women returning to jobs after childbirth told readers:
“Japan is sitting on a demographic time bomb: With its low birth rate, the population is on track to shrink 30 percent by 2060, at the same time 40 percent of its citizens will hit old age.”
There is no time bomb. Japan, like most countries, has seen an increasing ratio of retirees to workers. This has been going on for a century. This increase has been associated with rising living standards because of increases in productivity. By all projections, productivity in Japan will be vastly higher in 2060 than it is today, which means that both workers and retirees will be able to enjoy higher living standards even though there will be a lower ratio of workers to retirees.
As labor markets tighten in Japan, workers will go from less productive to more productive jobs. This will mean that people who want workers for menial jobs such as cleaning their house or tending their garden will have to pay more money. This is bad news for them, but it does not amount to a time bomb for the country.