Jun 18, 2017

We're getting old. We need robots to take care of us

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.

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

Rural America set to lose political power after 2020 census

Ottawa, Illinois, 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

In most of the 10 states that will likely lose a House seat due to reapportionment beginning in 2022, current demographic trends are poised to shift political power from rural counties to metropolitan counties, according to an analysis by The Hill's Reid Wilson.

Why it matters: Census counts are crucial for determining political representation in the House, and minor changes in population can alter a state's power in Congress for a decade.

Go deeperArrowJan 5, 2020

California sees drop in youth population, Texas sees a jump

Photo: Stephen Simpson/Getty Images

California's youth population dropped by more than 400,000 throughout the past 10 years to 8.9 million young people, attributed, in part, to a drop in immigrant inflows and the state’s lowest birth rate in history, Bloomberg reports, citing the latest Census data.

The big picture: The youth slump is a trend across the U.S., where 30 states noted a dip in the under-18 age group between 2010 and 2019, newly released data shows.

Go deeperArrowJan 11, 2020

Americans are moving less

Data: Census 2019 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Fewer than 10% of Americans moved to new places in the 2018-2019 year, the lowest rate since the Census Bureau began tracking domestic relocations in 1947.

Why it matters: Despite a strong economy, more people are feeling locked in place. Young adults, who have historically been the most mobile, are staying put these days thanks to housing and job limitations. So are aging adults who are reluctant to (or can't afford to) make a move.