Japan’s Adult Diaper Boom

Japan’s population has gotten so old that diaper manufacturers are selling more adult diapers for incontinent seniors than they are baby diapers. According to Bloomberg:

Unicharm Corp’s sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies for the first time last year.

This is because Japan’s population is getting older and older:

This is a pronounced trend all over the developed world. As people live longer and as fertility rates fall, there is a proportionately a larger and larger population of elderly retirees being supported by a proportionately smaller and smaller population of young workers paying taxes and interest on debt.

Governments of countries with ageing populations have a few choices. First, they could relax immigration laws so that working-age immigrants can enter the country, work and pay taxes to support the domestic elderly population (Japan has some of the tightest immigration laws in the world). Second, they could change the tax code or legal framework to incentivise a higher birthrate (for instance, tax breaks per child). Third, they could raise the retirement age (or at least provide incentives to keep an ageing population in work).

Another option is to hope for a miracle. But that doesn’t have a history of working out very well.

33 thoughts on “Japan’s Adult Diaper Boom

  1. Another factor here is the relative healthiness of Japanese oldsters compared to older Americans, who have been described by a writer far pithier than myself as “colossally overweight, diabetic TV zombies.” There is a huge contrast between much of the Japanese population, particularly in places like Okinawa, where people are among the healthiest and least diabetic on Earth, and what you see everywhere in America, especially in the red state “Jesusland” of the interior.

    The demographic problems are marginally less bad in the U.S. in at least some ways, but it will still face the same basic problems as Japan, albeit a few years later. And it won’t be a trim population of fish and rice eaters facing it, but obese people who have lived their entire lives largely on Big Macs, Ding Dongs and other such “foods.” Exercise is a foreign, even suspicious concept for most of them. I rather think that proportionately far more of them will be needing not just diapers, but every other kind of “health” intervention, and at much younger ages, than their Japanese counterparts.

    The system as it now stands will never be able to “treat” these people’s problems. It’s really quite unprecedented in history. Perhaps a small elite in ancient Rome may have overindulged in what today would be considered health foods. Now we have hundreds of millions of self-poisoned people getting old after lives of overeating health damaging, nutrient poor and toxin rich industrial foods, things which never existed in Nature. How will the remaining, shrinking numbers of healthy people ever be able to take care of them? Something’s gotta give.

    • I’d like to add a small comment as to the conditions of the American people.the state of the countries health can be attributed mainly to underlying motives. By the pharmaceutical companies. If you study the “food system ” in the us, you’ll notice that most large fast food companies sell food for extremely low prices. And in a time where healthy food is substantially more expensive you’ll find people drawn to that. To add that the additives in this cheap food are highly carcinogenic and just typically bad for your health. In essance more sick people equal more profit. For healthcare providers.

  2. Imbalance reveals itself in all ways. Once the overall debt issue is dealt with, many of these other issues will resolve themselves.

    The generation of nearly unlimited phoney debt money has thrown off the entire balance of society.

      • Actually, fiat money would work just fine if there were honest people. Look at how many times throughout history that people have manipulated gold-silver [actual or based] money. Fiat just makes counterfeiting/stealing much easier.

        The real problem with money is the fact that it exists…period!

  3. I always wonder why people assume incoming foreigners will be happy to pay taxes to old natives, rather than, you now, kill them and take their stuff,,,,,

      • TRT:

        The rule of law, and because they’re getting a fair trade. They get to immigrate to a nation with first-world institutions and work for a much higher wage they would otherwise in exchange for paying taxes to support a crumbling system.

        Really, some of the paranoia about immigration is stunning.


        Killing people for fiscal reasons? The state doesn’t have the right to propose or do such a thing.

        • Eh, that’s not what I meant. What I wanted to convey is that TrT’s comment was strangely dehumanizing the immigrants: what reason there is to believe that they’ll be more inclined to slay the elderly than the domestic citizens? Is TrT himself likely to kill old people to take their money? Probably not, but why then seriously consider such a threat?

        • Nah, don’t worry, it was I who was unclear. I could read English pretty well, but whenever I write or speak the results could be embarrassing, to say the least… Such as in this case: I felt like I was putting a logical stress on the word ‘you’, but it actually came as a suggestion for an action.

  4. “The businesses need to write off their irrecoverable debts and bad assets. Yes, it is a very painful and unpleasant process. And not everyone does it willingly, having fears for their capitalisation, bonuses or reputation. But, avoiding clearing the balance means preserving and prolonging the crisis. I think that the writing-off mechanism must be effective and fit the realities of today’s economy” ~ Putin, 2009

    • If we listened to Putin back then we would not be in this mess now. Now people are talking about revolution, taxing the life out of the 1%.

      If they just took a hit back then it would not be so painful.

      Back to Diapers, isn’t the biggest factory, supplying the world, with the key absorption ingredient in Japan?

      Talk about FRAGILITY!

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  6. The unintended consequences of abortion on demand has also mitigated a reduction in the demographic growth behind the baby boomers. This is never discussed, it is however not a moral or ethical discussion of abotion it is simply a demographic economical reality

  7. Nobody in my opinion can draw up any criteria to determine how many people are “enough” = each individual will have his or her own opinion, be you a scientist or a cleaner

  8. All of Europe and North America are aging rapidly, which is why we need managed care! Many in the Corporate world do not want managed care, or single payee, for obvious reasons: We pay twice as much for health care than does the rest of the developed world and our quality of health cared care delivery is among the poorest in the world. Most people in the Republican Party are in denial of this fact! Big business is just making too much money at the taxpayers expense!

  9. Once the bulge at the top collapses, they bottom rung will have material wealth beyond their wildest dreams. The recycling business will boom!

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  11. Pingback: Sales of Nappies for Adults outstrip sales of Nappies for Babies! « phsGeogBlog

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  14. These numbers may be thrown out of whack in comparison to other countries – Japan has a relatively good life expectancy rate and their diet range is quite vast.

  15. Pingback: Sales of Nappies for Adults outstrip sales of Nappies for Babies! | phsGeogBlog

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