Demographic Challenges: Canada and Japan Look to Immigration

Maine’s low birthrates, coupled with our aging population, put us on track to have nearly a quarter of the state’s population over age 65 by 2026.   But the entire nation is aging, and with our low birth rates, we are not producing enough replacement workers to keep our communities and our economy vibrant.

Two other countries face similar demographic challenges.   But rather than try to reduce levels of immigration, as the U.S. government is currently doing, Canada and Japan are both taking steps to increase immigration to their countries.

Canada, which previously set a goal of accepting 340,000 immigrants and refugees in 2020, has announced its intention to increase that number to 350,000 in 2021.

Japan has historically had extremely restrictive immigration policies.  However, its low birthrates and growing elderly population have resulted in the Japanese Cabinet considering immigration reforms that for the first time might allow some foreign-born workers to have a path to permanent status.

As the immigration rhetoric from the Trump administration heats up, it is worth considering whether its choice to bet on xenophobia as a winning strategy in the midterms will harm the U.S. and its economy in the long run.