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 11: Public infrastructures for equalizing capability in an ageing society

Tadashi Yagi

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


Tadashi Yagi 1. INTRODUCTION In his seminal research, Sen (1985, 1997) proposed the concept of ‘capability’, which refers to the ability to transform income, service and goods to improve their utility. This concept of capability is of critical importance in a society where there are large differences in capability within the population. As a society ages, the number and share of people who are disabled increases, because the probability of being disabled increases as one ages. Using time-series data, the current number of disabled people, and population forecasts, it has been estimated that there will be over 6 million disabled people in Japan within two decades. Capabilities of the disabled greatly differ depending on how well accessibility (which is not an important issue for those who are not disabled) to services is implemented. In other words, the inequality of capability is dependent upon the state of accessibility in a society, and this inequality of capability is of critical importance in an ageing society. When we consider the development of social infrastructures in an ageing society, it is important to pay attention to two related issues. One is the building of infrastructures that improve welfare for the elderly, such as home care. Infrastructures such as libraries and museums are very beneficial for the elderly, because the retired have the leisure to utilize these establishments and thus enrich their lives. The other issue is the improvement of accessibility for the disabled, since they are not able to benefit...

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