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To say that Japan's population will shrink over the next 83 years is an understatement. According to official state figures, the country will go from about 126 million people today to about 50 million in 2100, a 60% plunge.

Moreover, the makeup of Japan's population will utterly change, too. From about 15% of the population, people 65 and older will be 35% in 2100. And the working age population whose salaries are supporting the old will plunge: in 1970, Japan had 8.5 workers to support every retired person; in 2050, the number will be 1.2.

As you see in the chart below, these numbers reflect the trend in most of the world. Right now, the median age across the planet is around 29. In 2100, it will be 42. When you exclude Africa, the whole world will be, on average, 60 or older in just over three decades.

Expand chart
Data: United Nations, World Population Prospects; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

All of which is to say there is good reason for the development of elderly care robots. Many robot companies are focusing on just this area of development. Among them is iRobots, the makers of the Roomba robot vacuum. Watch this video of iRobots CEO Colin Angle, speaking to Axios about how the elderly can "age gracefully in place."

What can robots do? Either now or soon they will be able to:

  • Take grocery orders and pick them up
  • Keep the house tidy
  • Check vital statistics and report when things go wrong
  • Provide company of a sort
  • Supply chauffeur services

Go deeper

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden bombs with Manchin

Then-Vice President Joe Biden conducts a ceremonial swearing-in for Sen. Joe Manchin in 2010. Photo: Tom Williams/Roll Call

President Biden failed to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to agree to spending $3.5 trillion on the Democrats' budget reconciliation package during their Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Defying a president from his own party — face-to-face — is the strongest indication yet Manchin is serious about cutting specific programs and limiting the price tag of any potential bill to $1.5 trillion. His insistence could blow up the deal for progressives and others.