Japan’s Demography and Marx’s Capitalist Law of Population

A second paper for a forthcoming Special Issue on Marxism in Asia, guest edited by Rick Westra, has been published. “Japanese Demographic Crisis in View of Marx’s Capitalist Law of Population” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1625942) is by legendary Marxist economist Makoto Itoh, professor emeritus with the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tokyo in Japan.

The abstract states:

In more than four decades, Japanese society has rapidly intensified a tendency towards a very low fertility rate with a smaller number of children. It is generally confirmed that a society needs a total fertility rate of at least 2.1 in order to avoid a decline in its total population. The total fertility rate in Japan was still 2.14 in 1973, when the period of high economic growth in the post-World War II ended. It continued to decline to 1.26 in 2005. It then recovered somewhat in 2015, as the post-war “junior” baby-boom generation reacted to its last chance to have children. However, the recovery is temporary, and the Japanese total fertility rate is estimated to slide again in the 2020s. This article examines this transition through a re-examination of Marx’s capitalist law of population. This approach rejects the naturalist theory of population and directs attention to Japan’s demographic decline in the context of neo-liberal policies in contemporary capitalism.


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