News & views
Falling asleep on the job
[9 Feb 2015] A fine ambiguity appeared in The Times about the declining fertility of women in Japan, where small thin-walled apartments offer few opportunities for privacy and the average number of children born to each woman is 1.43. As the ‘replacement rate’ is 2.1, this is quite a crisis:
‘Doctors and sociologists have offered a variety of explanations. One is the lifestyle of many urban Japanese men, who leave home early, return home late after a long commute, and spend weekends sleeping or socialising with work colleagues.’ (20 Jan)
Mm. I think we are meant to understand this as meaning that Japanese blokes spend their weekends sleeping, not that they spend them sleeping with colleagues. Otherwise the birth rate would be ticking over just fine.
The article yields the further fascinating facts that after their wives give birth, 16% of husbands stop having sex (with their wives, presumably), and that the phenomenon of de-sexed men has spawned such book titles as ‘The Men Who Wear Bras and the Women Who Don’t’ and ‘Herbivorous Girly Men Are Changing Japan’. [MC]