Yasuchika Hasegawa, who is this year the co-chair of World Economic Forum's annual meeting, looks at Japan and sees a glimpse into what might await the rest of the developed world.
"Population growth is plateauing, but, at the same time, aging is progressing," Hasegawa told the forum. "If you look back at many developed countries' economic growth, when the economy was rapidly growing the population was growing as well. So this population growth and the economic growth came hand and hand together in most the countries. But those days are over for mature and developed countries."
The developed world's rapidly-aging populations will force hard choices onto nations unwilling to open their gates to new immigrants or kick start population growth in other ways, Mr. Hasegawa argued. Those nations, he added, will have to increase taxes and cut back on pensions. Well, that or face insolvency.
"The problem is shifting the money from less-income young people to the higher-income elderly people," he said. "Normally, logically that should be the other way around. But because of this situation, that is the reality in Japan."
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