Japan Data

Number of Births in Japan Reaches New Annual Low in 2021

Society Economy Health

The number of births in Japan dropped further in 2021, reaching a new low of 810,000.

Demographic statistics released by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare show that the number of births in 2021 was 811,604, which is 29,231 fewer than in the previous year. The total fertility rate, indicating the number of children a woman has in her lifetime, decreased for the sixth consecutive year to 1.30, a year-on-year decrease of 0.03 points.

Japan’s Demographics

2021 estimate 2020
Births 811,604 840,835
Total fertility rate 1.30 1.33
Deaths 1,439,809 1,372,755
Natural population change -628,205 -531,920
Marriages 501,116 525,507
Divorces 184,386 193,253

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.

The number of deaths in 2021 rose year on year by 67,054 to 1,439,809 in total, the highest number since the end of World War II. In 2020, measures against COVID-19 infection led to reduced fatalities from influenza and respiratory diseases, so that the number of deaths overall decreased for the first time in 11 years, but the trend toward increased deaths returned the following year. The natural decrease in population, as the difference between the number of births and deaths, was 628,205 in 2021, 96,000 more than the previous year and exceeding 600,000 for the first time.

During the first baby boom (1947–49) immediately after the end of World War II, the number of annual births in Japan reached 2.5 million, and births per year exceeded 2 million during the second baby boom (1971–74). Since then, the number has consistently declined, without a spike in births when the second baby-boom generation reached the age to have their own children. The number of births dropped below the number of deaths for the first time in 2007.

In 2021, the number of marriages fell to 501,116, down 24,391 or 4.6% compared to the previous year, marking the lowest number in the postwar period. In addition to those who postponed marriages due to the pandemic, an increasing number of people are reluctant to get married due to future uncertainties, so that there is little sign that the decline in the number of births can be reversed.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

population demographics