Japan’s Fertility Rate Inches to Highest Level Since Mid-1990s

  • Small rise doesn’t undo the trend of declining population
  • Early gains from Abenomics may have helped fertility rate

Japan's Fertility Rate on the Rise

Japan’s fertility rate rose slightly last year, to the highest level since 1994, indicating Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic program may had some success in slowing the rate of population decline.

The total rate rose to 1.46 in 2015, inching up 0.04 percentage points from the previous year, according to the health ministry. The biggest contribution to the change came from women ages 30 to 34.

An improvement in economic conditions in 2013 and 2014, the first two years of Abe’s reflation campaign, is among the reasons behind the change, according to the ministry. Yet this small improvement doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a sustained rise in the number of births, it said. Japan’s population continues to shrink as the number of deaths outpaces births.

The total fertility rate defined by the government is an estimate of the number of children that would be born to a woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and have children in accordance with age-specific fertility rates in that year.

The number of births was 1,005,656 in 2015, rising by 2,117 from the previous year, according to the report.

Abe unveiled new growth targets last year, which included boosting the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime to 1.8, up from 1.43 in 2013.

This still leaves Japan behind many of its peers.

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