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The curse of the Fire-Horse: How superstition impacted fertility rates in Japan

Emi Suzuki's picture
Data source: Statistics Bureau of Japan

In 1966, Japan experienced a sudden drop in its fertility rate—for just that year. During the 1960s, the fertility rate was about 2.0 to 2.1 children per woman, but in 1966 it dropped dramatically to 1.6 children per woman (Chart 2). The number of births in 1966 was much lower than in surrounding years, as can also be seen in Japan’s population pyramid, where there’s a big dent for people born in 1966 (the highlighted bars). This isn’t an error in the data, it’s real.

What a Waste 2.0: sharing lessons on solid waste management

Sameh Wahba's picture
 


By 2050, waste generation is projected to increase by 70 percent and drastically outpace population growth by more than double. Managing all that waste is becoming an important agenda for many developing countries.

The solid waste management sector offers opportunities for private entrepreneurship, resource conservation, and inclusiveness for marginalized populations; however, it also presents significant challenges in terms of technical, financial, and institutional capacities.

When sector-enabling conditions are not in place, waste is mismanaged, contaminating water bodies, clogging drains, causing flooding, and increasing diseases, all of which have significant environmental and economic cost for governments and societies.

Japan’s new immigration policy may be a development game changer for South Asia

Supriyo De's picture
In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18 

Japan has embarked on a major migration policy shift with a new law that passed the Upper House of the Diet in December 2018. Starting in April 2019, the new law will allow inflows of two types of foreign workers: (i) low-skilled foreign workers who would reside in Japan for up to five years and work in 14 specific sectors, including farming, construction, hospitality and shipbuilding sectors, but shall not be allowed to bring their family members, and (ii) foreign workers with a higher level of skills who would be allowed to bring their family members and could be allowed to live in Japan indefinitely (see Migration and Development Brief 30). According to news reports, Japan plans to induct 340,000 migrant workers over the next five years, though this may not be sufficient to compensate for a declining population which fell by 373,000 in 2017.

Breaking down the barriers to mobilizing sustainable investment

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture
Closing Plenary of the Investor Forum. © World Bank

“Private capital is often an important source of sustainable finance. Public finance alone may not be sufficient to meet the demands for sustainable finance as the global economy continues to grow and poses increasing burdens on our resources and ecosystems. Mobilizing private investment in areas such as sustainable infrastructure, sustainable technologies and business model innovations, among others, can deliver substantive environmental, social, and economic benefits.”

This summary from the G20’s Sustainable Finance Synthesis Report was at the heart of the discussion at the Investor Forum, which was held on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires in November. The event – hosted by the World Bank and the Government of Argentina – brought together investors holding over $20 trillion of assets as well as stakeholders and representatives from G20 governments. The goal was to identify steps for boosting long-term, sustainable, private-sector investments that tackle development challenges and promote economic growth in parts of the world that need it most.

Tackling gender inequality through investments in health equity

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
© Dominic Chavez/Global Financing Facility

Still today, in almost all societies around the world, women are less well-off than men. Women are still paid less than men; they are less represented in business, politics and decision-making. Their life chances remain overwhelmingly less promising than those of men. 
 
This inequality hurts us all. The world would be 20% better off if women were paid the same as men. Delaying early marriage in the developing world by just a few years would add more than $500 billion to annual global economic output by 2030. 
 
But this is more than a problem of lost income. For women and girls in poor countries, it cuts life short before it can flourish.  
 
Today, 830 women will die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. This month, 450,000 children under the age of five will die. This year, 151 million children will have their education and employment opportunities limited due to stunting. If current trends continue, 150 million more girls will be married by 2030.
 
Clearly, we need to accelerate progress so that no woman or child is left behind.

Educating for the future: The case of East Asia

Raja Bentaouet Kattan's picture
Photo by World/Bank

The purpose of any education system is to equip learners with the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life. Currently, East Asia is home to seven of the top ten education systems in the world. Despite impressive achievements, these above-average performing systems are not resting on their accomplishments—they continue to deepen the quality of education, tying learning to new and emerging needs. Central to the region’s curriculum reform is a focus on teaching and measuring 21st century skills.

Disability inclusion? Or disability as a market in aging cities?

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture
 

This last May in Tokyo, we talked about demographic transitions and aging cities, in a week-long discussion with city leaders from around the world.  Although we saw the opportunities that arise from having large numbers of elderly persons in cities, we also focused on the numerous challenges, many of which are grounded in age-related disability – both physical and cognitive.  We had expected that the conversation would be as our flagship report on social inclusion, Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity, puts it – about “including” the elderly into markets, services, and spaces following our framework.

Enter Rich Donovan, with a riveting talk that stood our assumptions on their heads.  Rich argued that persons with disability are a market.  They are an opportunity. And that there is an economic “return on disability.”  If we build and design having persons with disabilities in mind, we are in fact creating public goods.  In short, and as Rich has said elsewhere - this new vision of disability “transforms efforts of charity into the world’s largest emerging market”.

I got a chance to talk to Rich in Tokyo. Among other things, I asked him whether “social inclusion” is too arcane, or even too limiting an idea for the revolutionary take that he has on disability.

Rich’s book “Unleash Different” will be out in September 2018. We look forward to continuing the conversation with Rich about the return on disability. Meanwhile, watch this video in full, and leave a comment to share your thoughts, as world leaders gather in London for the Global Disability Summit.

From Japan to Bhutan: Improving the resilience of cultural heritage sites

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture
This page in: 日本語
 Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018
When it comes to their heritage buildings, both Bhutan and Japan have one common enemy: Fire. A view of Wangduephodrang Dzong in Bhutan which was destroyed by fire in 2012. Credit: Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018

About 2,749 miles, three countries, and a sea separate Kyoto, Japan, and Thimphu, Bhutan. The countries’ languages are different, and so are their histories.

But when it comes to their heritage buildings, both nations have one common enemy: Fire.

And to help prevent fire hazards, there’s a lot Bhutan can learn from Japan’s experience.

To that end, a Bhutanese delegation visited Tokyo and Kyoto last year to attend the Resilient Cultural Heritage and Tourism Technical Deep Dive to learn best practices on risk preparedness and mitigation, and apply them to Bhutan’s context.

Such knowledge is critical as Bhutan’s communities live in and around great heritage sites.

Are cities ready for their increasingly aging populations?

Ashna Mathema's picture
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Virtually everywhere, the share of “older persons,” aged 60 years or over, is increasing. The number of older people globally is projected to grow from 901 million in 2015 to 1.4 billion in 2030 to 2.1 billion in 2050. In 2015, one in eight people worldwide was 60 or older; in 2030, this number will be one in six people, and by 2050, one in five people.

Aging – and by the same token, aging in cities – is an outcome of increasing longevity and declining birthrates, and is currently more prevalent in wealthier economies. However, between 2015 and 2030, the rate of growth of elderly populations is expected to be highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by Asia and Africa. Not only is this rate likely to exceed that of the developed countries in the past, but it is also likely to occur at much lower levels of national income, and weaker systems of social protection (pensions, social security, etc.)


This demographic shift will have far-reaching social and economic consequences. Societies will not just be older, they will be more active for longer periods of their lives compared to previous generations, and they will function – and need to be understood – differently. Accordingly, it is important to recognize that aging is not a “problem” per se, but that it can become a challenge if the social, physical, economic, and policy environment is not adapted to demographic change. Aging is also changing the way money is spent and, as such, presents a massive opportunity for companies to tap into the “longevity economy” and to harness new innovations and disruptive technologies to increase the autonomy of older people.

From May 21-25, 2018, representatives from 15 cities in 12 countries visited Japan for a Technical Deep Dive on Aging Cities to learn about the fundamental paradigm shifts necessary to ensure that their cities offer a vibrant, productive, and livable environment for all residents, including the elderly.  In this video, Anna Wellenstein (Director, Strategy and Operations), Maitreyi Das (Practice Manager / Global Lead, Social Inclusion) and Phil Karp (Lead Knowledge Management Specialist) discuss the growing importance for cities and countries to understand, plan for, and adapt to the dramatic – but predictable – demographic shift that is occurring globally.

Five ways cities can curb plastic waste

Silpa Kaza's picture

As the world observes World Environment Day this week, we should be mindful that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050 if nothing is done, according to the Ellen & MacArthur Foundation.
 
The negative impacts that plastic is having on the environment and human health is profoundly evident:
  • Respiratory issues are increasing because of air pollution from burning plastic.
  • Animal lifespans are shortened because of consuming plastic.
  • Littered plastic is clogging drains and causing floods.
  • And unmanaged plastic is contaminating our precious oceans and waterways…

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