For many years, American economists have spoken of Japan and Western Europe as places where the slow grind of demographic change — masses of workers reaching retirement age, and smaller generations replacing them — has been a major drag on the economy.
But it is increasingly outdated to think of that as a problem for other countries. The deepest challenge for the United States economy may really be about demographics. And our understanding of the implications is only starting to catch up.
A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington think tank funded in large part by tech investors and entrepreneurs, adds rich new detail, showing that parts of the United States are already grappling with Japanese-caliber demographic decline — 41 percent of American counties with a combined population of 38 million.