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Shirahase, Sawako
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
LIS Working Paper Series 444
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the change in the household structure following the birthrate decline and the aging population and the economic well-being among the elderly. This study consists of three major parts. In the first part, the change in economic well-being of the elderly living alone in Japan was examined from the mid-1980s, to the beginning of the twenty-first century. In the second part, I compared the extent of economic inequality for the elderly living alone at the beginning of the 21st century with that in other industrial nations. The nations which are compared with Japan in this study are Germany, Italy, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. In the final part, focusing on the elderly who are under the long-term care, I examined how much personal networks and personal resources are utilized in receiving the long-term care among the elderly living in different types of household structure. In the households whose head is 65 years old and over, the degree of economic inequality has declined, but the economic inequality in the household with the elderly is still larger than that of households without the elderly. And although the rate of low-income households with the elderly has improved since the 1980s, the situation where female single-only household of the elderly in particular are at high economic risk has not largely changed. An important finding that emerged from the international comparison analysis is that the economic situation of the households with the elderly in Japan was similar to that in the U.S. and the U.K. The result in which the economic situation of the Japanese elderly is similar to that of countries of liberal welfare states suggest important clues in the future study of the welfare state. As far as our results are concerned, we are becoming similar to countries where the extent of economic inequality is quite high. Finally, we discussed personal network that the elderly who require long-term care possessed. In determining the size of personal network, the type of household to which elderly belong and their socio-economic status are important. For the female elderly living alone, neighbors are important resources as support network. On the other hand, personal network of the male elderly tends to be concentrated in their family, particularly their spouse.
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