Japan: An aging population (case study)

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  • Japan: An aging population
    • Negative
      • Problems with aging populations: the result of an aging population includes a small workforce which has to support the huge number of retirees. 
      • the highest proportion of elderly in the world, in 2006 20% of Japan’s people were 65 years and above. In the USA 12% of people were over 65 and the UK 16% of people were over 65. 
      • Labour force in the 15-24 age bracket stood at more than 8 million in 1990, will have shrunk to 5.3 million by 2015.
      • Japan’s projected figures for the increase in people over 65 (%)
        • 2015: 27% 2035:34% 2055:41%
      • State pension: the first to feel the negative effects or the pull of having an aging population
        • 2005 pension reforms: age of retirement rising from 60-65 by 2030 and higher pension contributions  
      • Japan has a tradition of honouring the old: National respect the aged day (public holiday)
        • Approx. 93% of elderly live at home, alone, with spouse or other family members. But more and more people are being put in to nursing homes. Paying and caring for the elderly takes up half of japans health budget 
          • Putting pressure on the nations economy as the expense of caring for providing care facilities the elderly rises.
            • 2000: tax for over 40’s was introduced to help pay for equipment such as wheelchairs.
            • 2006: incentives to encourage more independent living at home 
            • 2008: new health insurance scheme for over 75’s
    • Japan’s total population (peaked in 2005) is at approx. 127.8 million. 
    • Solutions
      • One solution is to bring in migrant workers. There are now 2 million foreigners living in japan 200,000 of the illegally.
        • In particular the IT section. Software engineers have been recruited In India and Japanese companies have set up training facilities in Beijing .
      • Encourage men to work after retirement
      • Increase the number of women who work
    • Positive
      • The Graying Yen
        • Elderly used to be anxious about the future and saved money all their life. This is now no longer true.
          • Pensioners are buying luxurious goods, traveling and indulging their tastes for expensive food.
          • In the past they would leave as much as they could for their children, to look after them in old age. 
          • As so many elderly are spending their income it could lead to a growth in the economy. 
      • Technology
        • ‘graying’ of japan has lead to a Technological ‘boom’ and has inspired a range of gadgets for people who are worried about elderly family members.
          • For example:
            • Online kettle, sends an email automatically to three people when it is switched on.
            • Internet linked sensors, these can be attached to everyday items (e.g. fridge, door mats etc.) so people can check up on relatives.

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