Japan has been trying to increase its birth rate for years, hoping that a youthful boost could offset an otherwise rapidly aging population. It's not working.
The country's health ministry announced Tuesday that the number of babies born in 2019 fell by an estimated 5.9% this year, to 864,000. It's the first time since 1899, when the government began tracking the data, that the number has dipped below 900,000, according to The Asahi Shimbun.
The decline in the absolute number of births is especially stark given that Japan's population in 1899 was about one-third of its approximately 126 million people today.
What accounts for the steep drop in births? The health ministry points to the declining numbers of people of reproductive age, as the offspring of baby boomers get older.
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