March 22, 2012 | By Vivian Song, MSN Travel
The world's dying countries

5. Japan

5. Japan (© iStock)
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Birth rate: 1.37

Japan faces a double-edged sword: though the country boasts one of the longest lifespans in the world, a low birthrate among Japanese women of childbearing age also signals a potential crisis in the making with a severe imbalance in the number of young workers to support the greying population. To reverse the country's plummeting birthrate, the Japanese government began writing out monthly cheques to help lessen the financial burden on hard-working parents and encourage young couples to begin making babies. But with the high cost of living, long working hours, stress-filled working environments, and lack of daycare, young Japanese professionals seem to be putting family planning on the back burner.

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