The rise (and fall?) of social equality

The evolution of Japan’s welfare state

Authored by: Gregory J. Kasza

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

Print publication date:  February  2011
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415551373
eBook ISBN: 9780203829875
Adobe ISBN: 9781136818387

10.4324/9780203829875.ch17

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Abstract

The welfare state comprises policies to protect people’s livelihoods from the effects of accidents, sickness, disability, old age, unemployment, poverty, and the expense of raising a family. Judging from results, one might guess that Japanese would have few complaints about their welfare state (see Table 17.1). Japanese have the longest life expectancies in the world. The unemployment rate has been one of the lowest among the industrialized countries, even though Japan’s labor force participation rate (the percentage of people between 16 and 64 who are employed or looking for a job) is 6 percent higher than the average in the European Union ( Nippon 2007: 113). Compared to other developed countries, the salary replacement rate of public pension benefits is typical, and the percentage of national income received by the poorest 10 percent of the population is high (Gruber and Wise 1999: 29; Tanzi and Schuknecht 2000: 40; Ministry of Health and Welfare n.d.: 482). And despite these positive results, in some areas the government’s welfare spending is comparatively modest (see Table 17.2).

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