NRI Papers
No.77   June 1, 2004
  Baby Boomers Face Retirement  
Minoru NAKAMURA
       The social security system in Japan is operated under the principle of intergenerational support. In order to maintain the system, a socio-economic environment that can smoothly sustain reproduction of the next generation without imposing an excessive burden on the working generation is required. To avoid imposing an excessively heavy burden on people of working age, structural reforms should be implemented under the basic principles that consist of reducing social security benefits and increasing system efficiency.
        In comparison to past generations, changes have been occurring in the lifestyles of the younger generations now in their twenties and thirties. These changes are represented by increases in the number of individuals who do not take regular employment after university graduation and a higher ratio of unemployed young workers than before. In addition, they are indicated by an increasing number of young part-time workers, a trend towards later marriages and increases in the number of unmarried adults who live with their parents. Many persons take a critical view of these phenomena by referring to such young people as "parasite" singles. It seems to me that young people are reaching a "status of zero" as a result of the long recession in the 1990s. They are forced to depend on their parents' income. Furthermore, increases in the number of juvenile delinquency and child abuse cases are also attributable to the prolonged economic slowdown, accelerated trends towards nuclear families and increases in the number of working housewives. These circumstances require the establishment of nonprofit organizations (NPOs), activation of volunteers who support family members who are less tightly constrained than in the old days. At the same time, the labor laws should be amended and university education and job training programs should be refined due to job creation for younger people. If employment of younger people--the coming generation--remains unstable and the number of low-wage workers continues to increase, this situation could be considered a national crisis.
       Around the time when Japan's population shifts into a decline, the post-war baby-boomers will reach retirement age. As baby boomers now have an average additional life expectancy of more than 20 years, they are strongly intent on continuing to be an active part of society; many call for the promotion of the employment of senior citizens. However, the working environment surrounding the younger generation who is counted upon to serve as the driving force of Japan's future is still severe. Consequently, baby boomers are expected to be of assistance to aged people and working people who are experiencing problems through NPO volunteer activities, rather than continued employment.
Contents
I Baby Boomer Retirement Close at Hand
II Post-Retirement Lives of Baby Boomers and Taxation and Social Security Systems
  1 Declining Population and Expanding Number of Households
  2 Increasing Taxation of Public Pension Benefits and Retirement Allowances
  3 Polarization in Medical Insurance
  4 Living Environment of Seniors
  5 Integration of Nursing Care and Terminal Care in the Community
  6 Increasingly Important Support Networks for Seniors
  7 Asset Management Service for Seniors
III Increase in Hollowing-Out and the Future of the Working Generation
  1 Declining Work Environment
  2 Employment Environment in the United States after the 1980s
  3 Burdens in a Welfare State, Sweden
  4 Responding to Globalization
  5 Decline in Number of Marriages
  6 Weakened Families
  7 Are Young People Socially Weak?
  8 Reform of the Labor Market
IV Need for Sharing Roles among Working and Retired Persons

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