A Comparative Analysis of Low Fertility
The primary scope of this sociology paper is to provide a comparison of low fertility rate in Japan and Germany, which is a social problem that both nations face. The specific objectives include the demonstration of the pervasiveness of the problem and structural factors that account for the issue in each country. All the data used is gathered from secondary peer-reviewed sources that have documented about the same topic. The results show that Japan has an fertility rate of 1.4 children per woman, while Germany has slightly higher rate of 1.45 children. However, both nations are in the same category, as they cannot manage to keep up with their current population. It has also been established that both countries have a large percentage of women at the workplaces, and young people are delaying parenthood, thus leading to this social concern. Furthermore, factors, such as abortion, urbanization, and cost of education, have been blamed for the same issue, but their magnitude varies in these two nations.
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The issue of low fertility in the society has become of grave concern, especially in developed nations. Most of these nations are having a reduction in the total population, which is adversely affecting their economy and political influence. Due to different reasons, some nations have experienced more decline in overall fertility rate than others. According to Lee and Lee (2014), Japan, an Asian country that is considered developed, is one of those nations that have continued to struggle with this problem for decades. Government initiatives to enhance birth rates have proven to be incompetent, and reduction in population for this nation remains inevitable to date. Germany is another developed nation that is suffering from the same concerns. Even after allowing millions of immigrating into the country for decades, the fertility rate remains very low. The current endeavor is to compare and contrast the problem of fertility in these two states by showing that it is of the same magnitude for both nations and later giving similar and opposing causing of the issue in each state.
Low Fertility Rate in Japan
For the late three decades, Japan has been the most affected country regarding population decline. Tsuya (2017) states that by the year 2007, Japan was at its pick of the population with an estimated 128 million residents. However, the figure has now decreased to 127 million, which is around 0.8% decrease in population just within a decade (Tsuya, 2017). It, however, has not occurred as a result of mass emigration from the country or due to some calamities, as the country has a positive net migration and has not encountered any artificial or natural disaster that has killed millions of individuals. The only possible explanation is that the number of children born is fewer than those people who die due to natural causes.
The statistic about the birth rate in the country is the primary evidence that shows that the fertility rate is an issue. According to Tsuya (2017), the average number of children per woman in Japan has remained at an average of 1.4 since the 1990s. It means that for the last thirty years, the Japanese women have not been giving births to replace the existing population. It takes two people to produce a child, which mean for the population to be sustained, each woman should also give birth to at least two children to replace herself and her male partner. An average of 1.4 children, in other words, means that there is a gap of 0.6 children per female to restore the current population.
The current trend is a serious social problem, as in the future, the economy and political prosperity of the country might be shuttered. Lee and Lee (2014) found that the average age in the country is 46.7, which means that the majority of women in the country are above the childbearing age. With such a huge aging population, most of them might be dead in the next few decades. Unfortunately, there are no young people to replace them; thus, population reduction is inevitable. The labor force needed in the job market would decline: a process that might adversely affect the productive economy of Japan. Its political influence might also be affected, as the countries with large population tend to have more political power.
Low Fertility Rate in Germany
Similar to Japan, the birth rate in Germany has also remained very low, even at some point lower than that of Japan. However, the population in Germany has not been regularly declining like that of Japan. According to Bujard (2015), the country had a population of 82.53 million by the year 2003, which reduced to 80.27 million in 2011, and now, it is increased to 82.6 million by 2015. However, this growth is not as a result of vibrant birth rates in the country but is due to high net immigration. Several million asylum seekers from the troubled Middle East have rejuvenated the growth of population in the county.
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Nevertheless, even with the injection of millions of foreigners into the Germany society, the fertility rate remains very low. Bujard (2015) notes that the country has a birth rate of 1.45 children per woman, which is a number way below the desired frequency that ensures total replacement of the current generation. Just like Japan, Germany has a deficit of almost 0.6 children per woman to facilitate the replacement both a man and woman involved in a birth. The fertility rate in Germany has been improving in the recent past unlike that of Japan, which has been deteriorating. Nonetheless, due to the current low fertility rate, the decline in population for the coming years is inevitable.
Similar to the Japanese scenario, the Germany reduction in population would have far-reaching effects on its economy and political aspirations. According to Bujard (2015), currently, this is the leading nation in the European Union and the entire European continent die to its influence in these two areas. The country also has the highest population apart from that of Russia, which is a definite proof that the number of people affect the economy and political power. Germany, just like Japan, have no other alternative but to find most appropriate ways to enhance the fertility rate in it society if it aspires to remain the economic and political powerhouse.
Reason for Low Fertility Rate in Japan
Female Labour Participation
After the Second World War, Japan began the aggressive economy reconstruction that required an increase in the labor force. The situation, therefore, promoted the government of the countries to put very active measure to facilitate women participation in formal employment. The same period also conceded with the second wave of feminism in the world that campaigned for women inclusion in all sectors of economy. As a result, a lot of females in Japan found their way into the job market and left their traditional roles as homemakers. According to DeStefano and Kabaklarli (2011), participation in the working process is up to 64.6% of all women; thus, they have a low frequency of pregnancy and higher age of motherhood. The early marriages were halted; thus, women chances of having many children were eliminated. With the continued participation of Japanese women in the working process, the current low fertility rate would endure.
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Cost of Education
Education is crucial to the progress of Japanese economy; thus, most of the parents always aim at providing the best for their children. However, DeStefano and Kabaklarli (2011) found that total cost that is incurred to educate kids in Japan has continued to raise. To manage the financing process, families are forced to make relevant decisions to the same effect. One of those resolutions that most couples agree on is to have fewer children. DeStefano and Kabaklarli (2011) argue that this choice has worked for many Japanese, as families have one child; thus, they manage to afford him/her a better education than families with more kids. If the government of Japanese aims at increasing birth rate in the country, then it must address the cost of education.
Japan is also one of the most urbanized countries in the world. According to DeStefano and Kabaklarli (2011), at least 93% of Japanese live in cities. Towns are not the best place to raise children, as they are mostly very costly and offer limited space for living. Many buildings in Japan have two or three bedrooms with no chance of expansion. A couple, therefore, decides to have as few children as possible. Other make a choice to live without kids after assessing their income and family expense, hence concluding that they are better off living without kids. DeStefano and Kabaklarli (2011) add that urbanization has also increased the leisure and socialization in the society to the extent that young Japanese no longer wish to enter into the marriages.
Average Male Income
Despite being a developed nation that has a high number of women in the workforce, men in Japan are still breadwinners who are obligated to support their families. It was much possible in the 1970s and 80s, as at that time, women had less or no income; therefore, they would settle for a man with low income. However, in the contemporary society, DeStefano and Kabaklarli (2011) found that the Japanese women are earning a good salary, and they only want to settle with men who can make equal or more than them. The problem is that most young men no longer have same opportunities as their predecessors; thus, they are suffering in the labor market trying to find a steady, well-paid job. As a result, by the age of fifty years, the quarter of all men are not yet married. Without marriages, it also means that they cannot get children, especially in the conservative Japanese society where having kids outside of marriage is considered wicked.
Reason for Low Fertility Rate in Germany
Female Employment and Careers
Just like in Japan, the women participation in the workforce has been widely accepted in Germany; thus, the country is struggling with low birth rates. Kreyenfeld, (2010) found that 71.5% of all women in the employment age are working in Germany, making it of the leading nations in the world by this factor. Such statistics shows that only a small number of women in the country are outside the workforce for pregnancy or motherhood reasons. According to Kreyenfeld, (2010), the average participation of women in Western Europe countries stands at 62.3%, which means that there are almost ten more women out of a hundred work in Germany than in other nations. Comparing the Japanese and Germany women in employment, it is clear that Germany has a towering figure. When more females are working, it follows, therefore, that only a few children are born.
The Postponement of Parenthood
Just like in the case of Japan, Germany also has the problem of postponement of parenthood. The difference between these two nations in that unlike in Japan where young men postpone marriage, it is the women who stay out of wedlock or motherhood in Germany. Kreyenfeld (2010) found that many women in the country give their first birth over the age of thirty. Most of these women are not concern about parenthood in their early years, as at this age, they are more concerned about making proper development in their careers. Some women also opt for cohabitation and other non-formal relationships to avoid early age family responsibilities.
Low Infant Mortality
Germany is a country with outstanding medical care in the world, which has enhanced the health of its people. According to Kreyenfeld (2010), by 1990s, the German population was no longer afraid that they would lose an infant or a young child due to curable diseases. The low infant mortality rates that started in the mid-years of the twentieth century, therefore, increased people confidence in having fewer children, as no one of them would die sooner. In the past years, especially during the wartime, German families were forced to have many kids as a precaution for immature death. The improvement in medical care in the country that has resulted in low infant mortality is, therefore, one of the reasons why the Germans give birth to fewer children.
Improvement in Family Planning Methods
Germany has several ways of planning for children, which can be blamed for the low childbearing. According to Kreyenfeld (2010), legalizing abortion and increased use of contraceptive are two key reasons why women no longer give birth. Kreyenfeld (2010) found that this is a huge problem. For instance, in 2010, there were 6.1 abortions per 1,000 women in the country. If abortion was not legal, all these kids would live. However, it is not right to force people to have babies that they do not want; thus, the practice of abortion in Germany might endure for years. Concerning the use of contraceptive by German women, they use different methods to avoid the pregnancy (Kreyenfeld, 2010). Such substantial prevalence of these contraceptives, therefore, means that women can avoid pregnancy for their entire life. It is evident that as far as abortions and contraceptives are acceptable in the country, the row infertility rate would persist.
The exegesis above has provided a comparison and contrast for the problem of low infertility rate that Japan and Germany are facing. By the use of current statistics, it has been proven that Japan has a fertility rate of 1.4 children per woman, while in Germany, it has slightly higher rare at 1.45 children. Nevertheless, these two countries are performing poorly in this area, as the desired birth rate should be two children per woman to make sure that both parties of the union, namely a man as well as woman, have been replaced. Cornering the reasons that have led to this problem in both states, it has been revealed that both nations have a large percentage of women in the workforce, and young people are also delaying parenthood. Moreover, few factors, such as abortion, urbanization, and cost of education, affect one country more than the other.