They're calling it a "demographic time bomb."
Tick, tick, tick. Do you hear it? It's the sound of the demographic time bomb getting ready to go off.
In China and India, the birthrates of boys are outpacing those of girls. It's been happening for such a long time that a marriage squeeze is starting to hit both countries.
When those boys come of age, there won't be enough brides to go around, and this is a problem; historically, both of these countries see heterosexual marriage as a necessary part of being included in society, and having a shortage of marriageable women results in a higher rate of crime, including rape, committed by young unmarried men.
Japan has their own demographic time bomb and it's all about the lack of interest in sex.
In a survey given to people between the ages of 16 and 49 by the Japan Family Planning Association, 49.3 percent responded that they hadn't had sex in the past month.
21.3 percent of married men and 17.8 percent of married women said they were too tired from work, and 23 percent of married women said sex was bothersome. Most shocking was that 17.9 percent of males and 45 percent of females said they had little interest (or a strong dislike) in sex.
The Japanese media call this sekkusu shinai shokogun, or celibacy syndrome. Japan also has a rapidly declining birth rate; people becoming physically disconnected from each other certainly isn't helping that.
According to a study by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research:
- 27 percent of men and 23 percent of women aren't interested in a romantic relationship.
- From ages 18 to 34, 61 percent of men and 49 percent of women aren't involved in a relationship.
- From ages 18 to 34, 36 percent of women have never had sex.
OK, so some Japanese people aren't having sex — what's the problem?
The population projection, from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research based on the census the Japanese government conducts every five years, says the overall Japanese population peaked in 2010 at 128 million but has been decreasing ever since.
According to the Institute's projections, by 2040 the population with be 107.2 — that's 20 million lower than the current level! And if it continues, the population will slip below 100 million by 2050, to 97 million.
The impact of the falling population threatens Japan in a variety of ways. First, the most productive group (15 to 64 year olds) will lower potential growth and shrink Japan's economy. It will also be difficult to keep the pension system and the other elements of the social welfare system going, bringing down Japan's standard of living.
Some rural areas may also de-populate completely out of existence! It's crazy to think that an entire country could eventually disappear.
The Japanese government has taken action and put a series of measures through, including matchmaking services, giving families with several children financial support, and encouraging more men to take maternity leave.
But it's going to take more than a few measures to slow down this demographic decline. Japan will need to change cultural biases, such as expecting women who become pregnant or marry to quit work.
In fact, there's such a huge amount of pressure to stay at home, that mothers who work find career advancement impossible. Working married women are called "Oniyome" or "devil wives." And if that's what a woman who loves her work has to look forward to, she'd rather just skip the marriage, sex, and kids altogether.