Japan Data

Number of Births Falls Further in Japan in 2020

Family Society Politics Economy

Despite a decrease in the number of deaths, the greater decline in births resulted in Japan’s largest ever natural population decrease.

There were almost 841,000 births in Japan in 2020, a year-on-year decrease of around 24,000. Provisional demographic statistics published by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare also indicate that the total fertility rate—the average number of children born to each woman during her lifetime—decreased by 0.02 to 1.34.

Japan’s Demographics

  2020 estimate 2019
Births 840,832 865,239
Total fertility rate 1.34 1.36
Deaths 1,372,648 1,382,094
Natural population change -531,816 -515,854
Marriages 525,490 599,007
Divorces 193,251 208,496

Created by Nippon.com based on demographic statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. The natural population change is calculated based on the difference between the number of births and deaths.

At 1,373,000, the number of deaths fell for the first time in 11 years. An increased focus on hygiene due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mask-wearing and thorough hand-washing, brought about a decrease in deaths from influenza and other respiratory disorders. Even so, the country saw its biggest natural population decline to date, with 532,000 more deaths than births.

There were more than 2.5 million births each year in Japan’s first baby boom (1947–49), while the second (1971–74) saw over 2 million annual births. The number has fallen continuously since, however, dropping below the number of deaths for the first time in 2007.

The number of marriages dropped significantly in 2020, by 12.3% year on year to 525,000, setting a new postwar record low. Concerns about infection and difficulty in returning to the parental home to give birth also spurred a 4.8% year-on-year decline in pregnancies, as only 872,000 were reported to local governments during the year. This means that the number of births may fall below 800,000 in 2021.

(Originally published in Japanese on June 7, 2021. Banner photo © Pixta.)

population aging demographics