The Economics of Social Security in Japan

The Economics of Social Security in Japan

ESRI Studies Series on Ageing

Edited by Toshiaki Tachibanaki

This book provides a comprehensive appraisal of social security in Japan, where traditionally the burden of welfare provision has been the main responsibility of the family and employers, rather than the state. However, an ageing population, changes in family structure and continued recession has led to an urgent reappraisal of this situation.

Chapter 7: Retirement provision: accumulations, security, and insurance

John Piggott, Sachi Purcal and Matthew Williams

Subjects: asian studies, asian social policy, economics and finance, welfare economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


John Piggott, Sachi Purcal and Matthew Williams 1. INTRODUCTION Throughout the twentieth century, governments increasingly have taken responsibility for financial provision of the elderly. At the end of the century, however, a steady retreat from this position can be observed throughout the world. Population ageing, combined with electoral pressure for smaller government, has led to lower benefit entitlements for those relying on publicly funded social security; this is sometimes accompanied by calls for mandated retirement financing to (at least partly) replace public provision. Retirement provision is an active policy issue in almost every developed country, and in many cases, reforms have already been enacted. Some of these are parametric, involving changes to the parameters of traditional social security systems: increases in contribution rates, benefit cuts, changes in the retirement age, or in survivorship provisions. Others, however, involve structural reform. Structural reform, as the name implies, involves more fundamental policy change, for example, the privatization of social security (debated, but not enacted, in the United States), or the development of a mandated employer or employee contribution to a pension fund, as in Australia and Chile. The UK reforms might be seen as combining elements of both. The United States, while fighting shy of structural reform of social security, has nevertheless moved to encourage greater private participation in retirement financing through tax concessions to 401(k) pension plans, which are essentially defined contribution (DC) partially preserved retirement saving plans. The advent of 401(k)s has dramatically changed the...

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