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Crossposted from Colorado Confidential

As Congress considers the comprehensive immigration reform plan introduced last week, it is helpful to remember that the United States is not the only country that is dealing with the related issues of an aging population with a declining birthrate on the one hand, and on the other a large number of foreign-born people who want to enter to the country to work, with varying degrees of commitment to staying.  I've paid special attention to the way Japan has approached these issues, because a friend who went to high school with me in Littleton, Colorado is now a permanent legal resident of that country.  He is part of a trend, because Japan, which has traditionally been far more hostile to immigrants than has the United States, has found itself needing to become more open to allowing migrants to live in the country.

Like many industrialized nations, including the United States, Japan has experienced decreasing birthrates in recent years.  Couple that with a stagnant economy, and there has been pressure on the government to liberalize its immigration policy.  This has happened, but only grudgingly.  Although in 2005 Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that chronic labor shortages were not a reason to ease immigration restrictions, Japan has opened its doors slightly to immigrants in recent years.  There are now approximately 2 million legal immigrants in Japan, mostly from the Koreas, China and Brazil, but also including 2.5% (approximately 50,000) who claim the United States as their homeland according to the Migration Policy Institute (xls file).  And almost one in twenty marriages in today's Japan involves a non-Japanese partner.


Debate over immigration policy in Japan has been depressingly similar to that in the United States.  Foreign immigrants are blamed for crime with little or no evidence, national policy favors immigrants with some claim to Japanese ancestry on the theory that they will be more likely to assimilate to Japanese culture, and brutal treatment of visa overstayers is justified on the ground that those who break the law have no right to complain.

You might wonder why a person would want to live in a country where there is so much hostility toward foreign-born residents.  I think it is something that just creeps up on you.  My friend from Littleton went over there, like many other Americans, just to teach English for a couple of years after college.  But after he did well in that role, suddenly the career opportunities were better in the new country than they would have been upon repatriation to the old one.  Twenty years later, he is married to a Japanese citizen and raising a family over there.  There wasn't any plan to pull up stakes and become an immigrant to Japan.


I think this isn't terribly different from the situation faced by a lot of people who move to the United States looking for work.  We call them immigrants, but in their own minds they often are just expatriates who plan on staying here for just a short while.  Of course, there are differences.  The typical person who comes to the United States for work has much gloomier employment prospects back home than an educated American living in Japan.  Also, American immigration policy makes it very difficult for a foreign worker to go home, even for a visit, once they get here.  But the psychological journey from expat worker to permanent resident is probably very similar, and really quite different from the paradigm of nineteenth century Europeans who came to America knowing that they would have little or no chance of going back in that less mobile era.


One insight I get from having this perspective is to be skeptical of a guest worker program as part of an immigration solution.  That type of program is pitched as a win-win for Americans who want foreign laborers to work and then leave, and for workers who tell themselves they only want to work in this country for a couple of years and then move back.  But, totally separate from the open question whether a guest worker program could be run in a way that would not undermine American workers, this pitch for a guest worker program misunderstands the psychological journey of a foreign worker from expat to immigrant.  And frankly, it underrates the appeal of the United States as a place to live -- guest workers may come to love America and regret having agreed to give up the chance to make a new life here.


The other insight I get from studying Japan's approach to immigration is that the United States is far ahead of the rest of the world in forging a new national identity that is not based on biological ancestry.  If Japan, which is notorious for having a narrow biological definition of what it means to be Japanese, can find itself having to open the door to immigrants as a way of keeping its economy afloat, how on Earth can people in America, famous for blending cultures from around the world, fear immigration for cultural reasons?  In our increasingly mobile world, countries we used to view as ethnically and culturally homogenous will come to look more and more like our multiracial, multicultural, multilingual United States.  Our ability to bring people of different cultural heritages together is our greatest strength as Americans, and it may also be the reason we have so far avoided a long economic downturn like the one Japan has experienced.  Let's hope our leaders don't forget that.

Originally posted to Colorado Luis on Mon May 21, 2007 at 06:35 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I don't know how to say "tip jar" in Japanese (19+ / 0-)

    But despite my weak language skills, I've had a great time every time I have visited the country.  Very underrated as a tourist destination.  Here's video of me having a bad hair day in Tokyo:

    "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand!"

    by Colorado Luis on Mon May 21, 2007 at 06:26:05 PM PDT

    •  Begging to differ (3+ / 0-)

      Japan is a great tourist destination.  I love the countryside, the seaside, the nightlife, the FOOOOOOD! the mountains, Kamakura, Kyoto.  Hell!  I love Tokyo.  That's just the main island.  I would love to experience Hokkaido in winter and would love to venture south of Kyoto.

    •  Agreed. Great tourist destination (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Colorado Luis, koNko, CincNavWif

      If anyone ever wants to do an apartment swap, let me know.  I don't have any immediate plans to go on vacation overseas, but in the not too-distant future, I'd like to visit any of the following locations:  Hawaii, NY, SF, New Orleans, Chicago, DC, Vacouver BC, Amsterdam, etc.

      If you're place is not listed above, try me.  

      I have a place located within 15 minutes walk of Shinjuku station (the largest station in Tokyo), north of the infamous Kabukicho entertainment district.  Convenient location, quiet neighborhood, lots of public transportation.

      •  kawaii soo! (sp?) "YoyogiBear" n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Colorado Luis, YoyogiBear
      •  You Live in Kabukicho? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YoyogiBear

        Are you Chinese?  I know Kabukicho very well, where do you live?

        "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

        by koNko on Mon May 21, 2007 at 09:29:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm in Shin-Okubo (north of Kabukicho) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko

          It's basically between Shinjuku and Takadanobaba.

          I'm not Chinese.  I'm an American from Oregon.  are you an American in Japan?  If so, have you considered joining Democrats Abroad Japan?  You can see the website here:  www.demsjapan.jp

          •  Hello (0+ / 0-)

            No, I'm Chinese working for a Japanese company so have lived in Japan (Tokyo - Nihonbashi, Osaka) and frequently visit there. Actually, I will visit Tokyo next week but will be in Shinagawa area every day.

            Previously I attended university & worked in USA living in New York & California, so have many friends there and one sister lives in SF.

            I'm familliar with Shin-Okubo. It's a much nicer place to live than Kabukicho, but I very like the small bars in Kabukicho (good to meet friends & listen to music) and of course, many Chinese live in that area. However, Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama have better China Towns.

            Do you work in a Japanese company? It seems more Americans are working in Japan nowadays, when I lived there (late-80's/mid-90's) there were many Chinese and Koreans but relatively few Americans (inside Japanese companies). Can you speak/write Japanese?

            I remember some of your posts regading WW2/Hiroshima a few months ago, nice to meet you again.

            ko

            "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

            by koNko on Tue May 22, 2007 at 03:18:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hi ko (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koNko

              I'm an IT recruiter in Japan (I have my own small company).  When I first came to Japan though, I did work at a Japanese company, in Nishi-Shinjuku.

              I like Shin-Okubo, also.  I just moved back after living in Yoyogi for 2.5 years and actually I like Shin-Okubo better because the stores are open later, there are more stores & restaurants and it's cheaper ;-)

              One of these days, we should try to arrange a night out for Japan-based Kossacks.  I think it would be fun to meet other people who visit this blog.  Would you be interested in something like that?  

              •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                YoyogiBear

                Unfortunately this trip I'm escorting some Chinese customers so I will be very busy but some other time would be great.

                Yah, Yoyogi is kind of, um ... quiet ... I suppose you have lots of Chinese neighbors now so no chance of that problem. LOL

                Own Company? Good for you, it's exactly how a foriegner can succeed in Japan.

                Let's keep in touch.

                "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

                by koNko on Wed May 23, 2007 at 02:59:14 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  No Tipping in Japan or China !!! n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Colorado Luis, Asak

      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

      by koNko on Mon May 21, 2007 at 09:27:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They don't (6+ / 0-)

    "Expats" are those who come from the UK, Australia, New Zealand.  "Immigrants" come from Mexico, elsewhere in Latin and South America, India, Asia etc.  Whites are expats, other shades are immigrants.  Legal status is a separate matter.

    •  Even I hadn't considered (0+ / 0-)

      the possibility that "expat" and "immigrant" are strictly racial categories.  You are probably on to something when you say people don't think of Latin Americans as being expats.  But there are a bunch of people from Russia not too far from where I live and they are definitely called "immigrants."

      "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand!"

      by Colorado Luis on Mon May 21, 2007 at 07:03:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  my gut reaction to your title was (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Colorado Luis, CincNavWif

        Expats become immigrants when they turn brown (in the US at least).

        I've never been to Japan but have always been curious.  There was a time when California schools taught Japanese and Mexican history.  I also enjoy Japanese culture (read: love sushi and anime, heh).  I'll have to take the kids someday.

        Blogatha! The political, the personal. Not necessarily in that order.

        by ksh01 on Mon May 21, 2007 at 07:15:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Must be the accent (0+ / 0-)

        it doesn't sound like the Queen's

      •  It's more developed vs undeveloped country (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko

        If you are already a part of the first world and come to the U.S. then you are an expatriot.  You're really not leaving for a "better life", just a different one.  If you come from a developing country, like Russia, India, China, etc, in order to find better opportunities then you're an immigrant.  

        Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

        by Asak on Mon May 21, 2007 at 08:42:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What if (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ed in Montana

          You came from China because you had high marks and were invited so your brain could get tapped?

          Immigrant, Ex-oat or ????

          "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

          by koNko on Mon May 21, 2007 at 09:36:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            koNko

            I think in that situation the person would still be considered an immigrant, because the people who use the word with negative connotations would feel you're "stealing" an American job.  

            Really the words should be interchangeable, and immigrant should not be negative anyway.  

            Don't like XOM and OPEC? What have YOU done to reduce your oil consumption? Hot air does NOT constitute a renewable resource!

            by Asak on Mon May 21, 2007 at 11:51:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My Experience (0+ / 0-)

              Well, as I mentioned, when I lived in USA I was an "immigrant", but still, my experience was basically positive. I think when you come from another place for opportunity you will accept whatever comes with the situation and make the best, right?

              So I consider myself fortunate for the opportunities I got and always wish well for the USA, most Americans are very good people, even some with a bad initial impression of foriegners. I do agree the US is one of the most advanced in terms of accepting people from everywhere.

              "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

              by koNko on Tue May 22, 2007 at 03:31:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Not just in English. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Colorado Luis, Ed in Montana, koNko

        Euphemisms for various handicaps, including being brown, pop up in all languages, I think.  I've lived for a long time in Norway.  Back when brown visitors were called "guest workers", I used to refer to myself as a guest worker, just to make a point.  I'm white and freckled.  People almost invariably reacted "Why, you're not a guest worker!"  To which I could play insulted and ask if they were inferring that I don't work.  

        They even called little kids who were born here "guest workers".  It was just a reflexive word for brown people.

        Now there are mainly 2 words for "us".  The positive, coined by former King Olav V, is "our new countrymen".  The negative is "culturally foreign".  Since I'm from the USA, I'm not culturally foreign.  I'd bet my socks that a black American would be called "culturally foreign".

        Great diary!

        The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

        by DSPS owl on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:39:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not just in English. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko

        Euphemisms for various handicaps, including being brown, pop up in all languages, I think.  I've lived for a long time in Norway.  Back when brown visitors were called "guest workers", I used to refer to myself as a guest worker, just to make a point.  I'm white and freckled.  People almost invariably reacted "Why, you're not a guest worker!"  To which I could play insulted and ask if they were inferring that I don't work.  

        They even called little kids who were born here "guest workers".  It was just a reflexive word for brown people.

        Now there are mainly 2 words for "us".  The positive, coined by former King Olav V, is "our new countrymen".  The negative is "culturally foreign".  Since I'm from the USA, I'm not culturally foreign.  I'd bet my socks that a black American would be called "culturally foreign".

        Great diary!

        The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

        by DSPS owl on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:45:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Some Truth to That (0+ / 0-)

      When I lived in USA I was "immigrant", while some Europeans were "ex-pats".

      Idon't know if the dividing line is just racial or also economic, if you're rich, you are "welcome" anywhere.

      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

      by koNko on Mon May 21, 2007 at 09:33:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My, aren't we snooty today. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko

      Both terms are, and should be, ethnically neutral. They describe a state of mind.

      Never trade luck for skill.

      by valion on Mon May 21, 2007 at 10:42:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Shall we say "should" (0+ / 0-)

        Not all people think or act ethnically neutral, so discussion of such experiences or perceptions may be more honest than snooty.

        "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

        by koNko on Tue May 22, 2007 at 03:36:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  an aside about Japan and immigrant workers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado Luis, Asak, Demi Moaned

    Your diary reminds me of a story I heard on NPR about Japan (incidentally, I've been there on a business trip and would love to go back to visit, and a colleague and friend is Japanese). There are quite a few Africans working in Japan, but most Japanese don't know it because they're hidden. They're sent out to pick up garbage at night, while Korean and Chinese workers are sent out during the day. Can anyone comment about this story?

    As for a guest worker provision, a greater concern for me is that legalizing illegal immigrants is a massive green light for millions more.

    •  I live in a place called Shin-Okubo (5+ / 0-)

      which is one of the most racially diverse places in Tokyo (which is the most racially diverse place in Japan).

      According to the ward office, 40% of the residents (many illegal) are non-Japanese.  In my area, it's mostly Korean & Chinese though there are also South Asians, SE Asians, Europeans, & Americans.

      I somtimes think Japan is like America on steroids.  People are assigned stereotypes and are expected to live up (or down) to them.  If you're from Africa, you work in a bar as a bartender or some other marginal profession.  If you're a mainland Chinese, you work at a small Japanese company or in the service economy like a convenience store, etc.  And these are your primary options.

      Japanese people are not immune.  For Japanese, if you're a "salaryman" you're supposed to be a stoic company man who works tirelessly and ends his day with drinks with your coworker in Shimbashi (they get very specific).  

      I'm not aware of African garbage collectors, but they may exist.  Foreigners (especially those whose numbers are relatively small, like Africans) tend to be assigned more rigid stereotypes, but Japanese people have to live with them to.

      Japan doesn't really have a choice with regards to immigration.  There aren't enough locals to run their economy and foreigners are picking up the slack.  Often in jobs that Japanese people won't do, sort of like in America.  I suspect that a lot of the people who do such jobs are here illegally.  Maybe I'm not paying attention, but I don't really see any massive crackdowns on them.

      I do wish they'd just give us the right to vote.  I'm a permanent resident here and pay taxes but still can't vote for anything, which blows.

      •  Trade the Dems for the LDP? Are you feeling ok? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YoyogiBear

        LOL, just joking, but really, if you could vote, which party would you support?

        "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

        by koNko on Mon May 21, 2007 at 09:39:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Probably the far left party (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko

          In the mayoral election they had recently, I would have voted for one of the leading non-Ishihara candidates.

          I despise Ishihara and think he's a bad mayor, as well.  He seems very focused on the Olypics and the other two leading candidates seemed more interested in bread-and-butter issues, which I support:  care for the elderly, social services, etc.

          •  "Anyone but Ishihara" works for me !!! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            YoyogiBear

            I remember when he was a game show/talk show host and professional buffoon ...

            The more things change, the more they stay the same!

            "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

            by koNko on Wed May 23, 2007 at 02:48:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Fascinating (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Colorado Luis, YoyogiBear

        Thanks for the comment.

        I somtimes think Japan is like America on steroids.  People are assigned stereotypes and are expected to live up (or down) to them.

        My Japanese colleague has a hard time conforming. He is mild-mannered but always questioned the protocols in school, and always got into trouble. He prefers being free here in the US. I don't deal with rigid expectations well, either.

        I suspect that a lot of the people who do such jobs are here illegally.  Maybe I'm not paying attention, but I don't really see any massive crackdowns on them.

        Yeah, same as in the US. They've begun to deport some people, but not on a wide scale. Businesses love cheap workers, so the system turns a blind eye.

        I do wish they'd just give us the right to vote.  I'm a permanent resident here and pay taxes but still can't vote for anything, which blows.

        Can you ever earn that right? Can you become naturalized? Does the latter automatically imply the former?

        •  I'd have to become a Japanese citizen to vote (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DrReason

          and as I understand it, it's a very involved process and requires near-native Japanese skills.  My Japanese is advanced, but not near native.

          I still love America more anyway.  japan is great and I've done OK making a living here but someday I'd like to return to the US.  I go back once or twice a year and every time I go, I just have the time of my life.  I like the fact that I can speak my native language and people just understand me.  I also like the fact that I'm more familiar with the culture, politics, history, etc.  For all of it's problems - especially with regards to the corrupt government - America is still a great and interesting country.  I just need to decide where I'll live when I eventually move back!  There are so many places I'd love to live...

        •  One other thing... about your Japanese friend (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DrReason

          My major in college (Univ. of Washington, Seattle) was "Japan Regional Studies".  Definitely a degree of dubious utility, but the courses were interesting.

          One of my professors commented that many Japanese poeple feel like your friend.  He referred to it as the people having been boxed in all of their life in Japan and being taken out of the box when they go overseas.  Once you're taken out of the box though, it's almost impossible to get crammed back in.  Japanese people often have significant difficulties fitting back into Japan and Japanese people themselves often don't know how to deal with such people because of their own rigid thinking.

          It's a very common reaction among Japanese people and probably why a fair # of them overstay their visas in the US and just live there illegally.

          •  You know.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            YoyogiBear

            > Once you're taken out of the box though, it's almost impossible to get crammed back in.

            Haha, reminds me of the latest Mac ad where the PC guy is huge.

            I think what you describe might be even more universal. There are plenty of traditional societies that dictate the behaviors of men as well as women (the right things to say, the right way to act, "respect" for elders, etc.), and living in the US allows people to escape that, even more so than Western Europe, I think. That's also true for homosexuals. It gets you killed in Iran.

            There was an article in the NY Times a while ago about immigrants from Central & South America going to church less in the US than they would at home. They and their kids play sports on Sunday instead. Back home, people would talk. Here, everybody is glad to escape the mould.

  •  Going home (0+ / 0-)

    Also, American immigration policy makes it very difficult for a foreign worker to go home, even for a visit, once they get here.

    How so? If someone is here on a valid work visa, they are generally allowed to leave and return, I believe.

    •  Obviously (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko

      I'm referring to the policy that denies the vast majority of immigrants legal papers, so they can't go home and come back.

      "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand!"

      by Colorado Luis on Mon May 21, 2007 at 07:31:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why obviously? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko

        You put this in the context of your friend who is a legal immigrant to Japan.

        •  It's the policy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko

          It has the unintended consequence of turning expats into immigrants because they lose their connection to the home country.

          "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand!"

          by Colorado Luis on Mon May 21, 2007 at 07:40:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't see that at all (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Asak, william shipley, koNko

            We do have a policy that allows legal immigration and it allows a very large number of people to enter every year. Our policy is more generous than most industrialized nations.

            I would not establish residence in a foreign country and then expect that country to change its laws because I found their processes inconvenient.

            The fact that people violate our laws to enter our country is not per se a criticism of our laws.

            The reason that seems to me valid for reforming our immigration policy is that so many of the people who come here illegally do have the capability of contributing to our society and our economy does have a place for them.

        •  I thought he was referring to illegal immigrants (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Colorado Luis, koNko

          there are a lot of Japanese people who, say, study in the US and then end up staying there illegally after graduation and after their visa expires.  

          If they return to Japan for a visit, for example, they'll be barred from re-entering America.  As a result, they seem to be stuck in America.

  •  I'm puzzled (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Demi Moaned

    By this concern of declining birthrates. If humans have any hope of longterm survival on this ball of mud we call our planet, declining birthrates is exactly what we need.

    With nearly a third of billion people already in the United States, our country is already way over-populated. Global warming, lack of renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture are all problems that will be next to impossible to solve with constantly increasing population size in the U.S.

    It's still TESTER TIME!

    by Ed in Montana on Mon May 21, 2007 at 08:15:29 PM PDT

    •  It's a global issue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana, Demi Moaned

      I agree that declining birthrates are necessary on the global level.  However, trying to fence in a country like Japan or the United States from migration pressures from countries where birth rates aren't so low (although interestingly, China and Mexico have not so high birthrates themselves) causes localized economic problems (Japan providing an excellent example).  What I don't agree with is what I believe is an implicit assumption you are making, which is that it is somehow possible to deal with these global issues strictly on the national level in the USA  by (among other things) trying to control the population.

      "I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand!"

      by Colorado Luis on Mon May 21, 2007 at 08:32:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No I'm not making that assumption (0+ / 0-)

        Necessarily. Having watched the immigration-population wars within the Sierra Club several years ago, I'm still amazed on how the debate is frequently portrayed. Unlimited immigration = good, while limited immigration is racist and population limits on a local (national) basis is impossible.

        As a nation, we keep punting these questions down the road, while the country gets ever more crowded, the landscape paved over, and the environment damaged.

        As a grandson of an immigrant, I don't have any quick answers, but I wish the questions could be discussed more frequently and openly.

        It's still TESTER TIME!

        by Ed in Montana on Tue May 22, 2007 at 04:47:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Demographics & Distribution (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ed in Montana

      Typically, as bitrhrate declines mean age increases to the point that the needs of the old overwhelm the young, and productivity declines.

      Today, Japan has the lowest birth rate of any industrializd nation and a very rapidly aging population, so there is economic and practical neccesity to increase immigration.

      China too faces an "Age Bomb" about 20 years down the road (incredible as it sounds) since our long policy to limit poulation and now rapid industrialization is having a similar effect.

      It's interisting to me that, 20 years ago when I lived in the USA I had great difficulty convincing Americans that Chinas one child policy was wise - they had no concept of how the cycle of overpopulation-famine hsd ravaged China in the previous hundered years. Now that the effects of global overpopulation are becoming obvious, we don't seem so crazy anymore.

      However, declining birthrate does have side-effects, and accepting immigrants to relieve over-populated areas can be a win-win for developed nations. Frankly speaking, until very recently, illegal immigration worked just fine for the average American.

      "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

      by koNko on Tue May 22, 2007 at 04:00:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko

        Typically, as birthrate declines mean age increases to the point that the needs of the old overwhelm the young, and productivity declines.

        The opposite is also a situation to be concerned about, where there are so many children, that the smaller productive adult population is strapped to provide sufficient services such as schools, daycare, and medical services. Case in point: Utah, which has one of the highest birthrates in the country, and a poor financially-strapped school system.

        It's still TESTER TIME!

        by Ed in Montana on Tue May 22, 2007 at 04:53:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Correct - Balance is Essential (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ed in Montana

          What constitutes an acceptable balance probably depends on economics, I make the assumpion affluant societies with adequate pension and health services would be more tolerant of bias in either direction, I just doubt many societies would fit that criteria.

          Greater population, food and water stress comes from developing countries, greater environmental stress from affluant and industrial countries.

          From the environmental viewpoint, the world can't affford to sustain much more population or wealth, the linked charts illustrate this two-ended problem, please look.

          Sustainable Population/Income Level - Source: UNEP/GRID

          Global Population Development Trends - Source: UNEP/GRID

          So I would argue we not only have to promote population control globally, but accept and manage continued migration from under-developed countries to aging developed ones. When you look at the numbers, arguments about quotas in tens of thousands seem pretty irrelevant.

          "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

          by koNko on Tue May 22, 2007 at 08:18:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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