Ms. Yuko Hashimoto, Mr. Gee Hee Hong, and Xiaoxiao Zhang
How does a shrinking population affect the housing market? In this study, drawing on Japan’s experience, we find that there exists an asymmetric relationship between housing prices and population change. Due to the durability of housing structures, the decline in housing prices associated with population losses is estimated to be larger than the rise in prices associated with population increases. Given that population losses have been and are projected to be more acute in rural areas than urban areas in Japan, the on-going demographic transition in Japan could worsen regional disparities, as falling house prices in rural areas could intensify population outflows. Policy measures to promote more even population growth across regions, and avoid the over-supply of houses, are critical to stabilize house prices with a shrinking population.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with Japan highlights that the rapid aging and shrinking of Japan’s population has become central to macroeconomic policies and outcomes. The consultation centered on the macroeconomic effects of Japan’s demographics. Mutually reinforcing policies are needed to lift current and expected inflation, stabilize public debt, and raise potential growth. Underlying growth is expected to remain resilient but will be increasingly challenged by slowing external demand and intensifying demographic headwinds. Growth in domestic demand is being eroded by the weaker external environment. Frontloading of private consumption ahead of the October 2019 consumption tax rate increase appears to have been smaller than in 2014.
The evidence on the inflation impact of aging is mixed, and there is no evidence regarding
the volatility of inflation. Based on advanced economies’ data and a DSGE-OLG model, we
find that aging leads to downward pressure on inflation and higher inflation volatility. Our
paper is also the first, using this framework, to discuss how aging affects the transmission
channels of monetary policy. We are also the first to examine aging and optimal central bank
policies. As aging redistributes wealth among generations and the labor force becomes more
scarce, our model suggests that aging makes monetary policy less effective and in more gray
societies central banks should react more strongly to nominal variables.
The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the world leader in growth, and recent data point to a pickup in momentum. We expect the region to expand by 5.5 percent in 2017, up from 5.3 percent in 2016. Accommodative policies will underpin domestic demand, offsetting tighter global financial conditions. However, the risks to the outlook, on balance, are slanted to the downside. A possible shift toward protectionism in major trading partners could suppress Asia’s trade, while the continued tightening of global financial conditions and economic uncertainty could trigger capital flow volatility. A bumpier-than-expected transition in China would also have large negative spillovers to the region. Beyond the short term, many parts of Asia face secular headwinds from population aging and slow productivity growth. These challenges call for domestic policies that support growth while boosting resilience and inclusiveness. To sustain long-term growth, structural reforms are needed to deal with challenges from demographic transition and to boost productivity.
Is Japan’s aging and, more recently, declining population hampering growth and reflation efforts? Exploiting demographic and economic variation in prefectural data between 1990 and 2007, we find that aging of the working age population has had a significant negative impact on total factor productivity. Moreover, prefectures that aged at a faster pace experienced lower overall inflation, while prefectures with higher population growth experienced higher inflation. The results give strong support to the notion that demographic headwinds can have a non-trivial impact on total factor productivity and deflationary pressures.