Thursday, June 16, 2005

Japan and the elderly

As William Gibson said, the future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed.

This excellent post by U Chicago economist and Nobel Prizewinner Gary Becker details a recent trip to Japan:
We come back to the retirement issue this week because I discovered during a just concluded trip to Japan that this country has taken the lead in encouraging much later effective retirement than other developed nations. The system in Japan is a bit complicated, but has several important features that could be implemented in the United States and other nations. The Japanese approach also has implications for many comments on our discussion last week- I respond to these separately.
Japan has the lowest official retirement age (60) but because it offers chintzy pensions and is culturally and legally open to having old workers at low wages, Japanese workers remain in the workforce until they are about 70 years old.

In the US to some degree, but in Europe to a far greater extent, rigid labor laws/anti-age discrimination legislature and generous pensions motivate people to leave the work force and live off the state too early.

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