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Silver Democracy: Extinct Volcanoes in Japan Sap Economy

January 28, 2011

Here’s a good illustration of how to stagnate your economy–redistribute wealth from the young and creative to the stale and old:

An aging population is clogging the nation’s economy with the vested interests of older generations, young people and social experts warn, making an already hierarchical society even more rigid and conservative. The result is that Japan is holding back and marginalizing its youth at a time when it actually needs them to help create the new products, companies and industries that a mature economy requires to grow…
“Japan has the worst generational inequality in the world,” said Manabu Shimasawa, a professor of social policy at Akita University who has written extensively on such inequalities. “Japan has lost its vitality because the older generations don’t step aside, allowing the young generations a chance to take new challenges and grow.”

This is why limiting the scope of sovereignty is morally important. As each generation passes, more people accumulate into politically invincible budget-dominating demographics. With the option of voice all but silenced before the apparent moral authority of pensions for the old, the only hope for the young is to exit:

Mr. Horie finally quit — not just the temporary jobs, but Japan altogether. He moved to Taiwan two years ago to study Chinese. “Japanese companies are wasting the young generations to protect older workers,” said Mr. Horie, now 36. “In Japan, they closed the doors on me. In Taiwan, they tell me I have a perfect résumé.”


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  8. Abelard Lindsey permalink
    January 28, 2011 6:18 pm

    The Japanese media and government whinges on and on about how the “young” are not having any kids. If there is no economic opportunity for young people, like there hasn’t been since 1991, there is no way they can expect young people to have kids. It just not possible. Emigration and the slacker life style represent rational choices in a stagnant economy.

    • January 30, 2011 3:25 am

      Hmm..I’m not sure what the right answer is, but this guy in the article sounds a little whiny like he wants hari kari reinstated for those over 40… A stagnant economy being blamed on only one problem, I’m not sure that is the only place to throw stones, 21 century aside, the culture is still very different than our western society. There is always more complexity than discrepancy alone.

      • Abelard Lindsey permalink
        January 31, 2011 9:49 pm

        Actually, the Japanese economy is very hostile to entrepreneurship. There are many more regulations than in most of the other Asian economies and the corporate tax rate is 50%. It is the lack of new business formation that makes it difficult for young people to have opportunity in Japan.

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