More Adult Diapers Are Sold in Japan Than Baby Diapers

I was listening to an interview with an investment manager (I think it was Jeff Gundlach) over the weekend and was reminded of a very interesting demographic data point from a few years ago.

According to a major Japanese chemical company, 2011 was the first year that adult diaper sales exceeded baby diaper sales. The reason is an extremely unfavorable demographic combination of a low birth rate and an aging population (chart from The Economist):

In 2011, Japan's birth rate was measured by the World Bank at approximately 1.4 births per female. If that rate persists, for every lifespan, Japan's population will shrink by about 30%. That's incredible.

The demographic trend is similar in China because of the country's one-child policy, now more than a generation old after beginning in 1979. As of 2011, China's birth rate clocked in at about 1.6.

In contrast to Japan, China, and many parts of Europe, the US should remain relatively young in the coming decades. Not only is our current birth rate higher (1.9, compared to 1.4 in Germany and Spain, but 2.0 in France), but we are also experiencing continued immigration as many still leave their home country to try and succeed in a relatively strong US economy. While immigration is a hot topic politically, the US as a destination has some positive social benefits in that recent immigrants do tend to have more children than our current population.

I'll see if I can find a chart similar to the Japanese population chart above to show projections for the US.