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Markets in Everything: Substitute Grandchildren

By Chris | April 6, 2008

A Japanese toymaker designed dolls for the elderly:

As Japan produces fewer children and more retirees, toymakers are designing new dolls designed not for the young but for the lonely elderly – companions which can sleep next to them and offer caring words they may never hear otherwise.

Talking toys have become such a hit that some elderly people have embraced them as substitutes for the children who have grown old and deserted entire neighborhoods in the rapidly greying country.

The Yumel doll, which looks like a baby boy and has a vocabulary of 1 200 phrases, is billed as a “healing partner” for the elderly and goes on the market Thursday at a price of ¥8 500 (R472).

People often worry about the consequence of overpopulation.  However, many developed countries such as Japan and much of Western Europe are experiencing stagnating population growth.  This story illustrates  some of the relational consequences of low birth rates.  The economic repercussions are no less depressing.

Topics: Markets | No Comments »