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Title: Changing shape of the care diamond : the case of child and elderly care in Japan
Authors: Abe, Aya K.
Keywords: JAPAN
Date: 2010
Publisher: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva, CH
Series/Report no.: Gender and development programme paper / United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD); no. 9
Abstract: Traditionally in Japan, the care needs of children, the elderly, sick or disabled have been met within the family. As one of the welfare states with the highest proportion of elderly people (defined as those who are 65 years and older) the state provided a few care services, but they were limited and the coverage was restricted to those with the most intense care needs. However, a number of social forces have made it necessary to expand the public role in care provision. These forces include demographic change (ageing), changes in family structures (the increasing proportion of one-person households and households that include only elderly persons) and, to some degree, changes in the labour market (the increase in female labour force participation). For elderly care, the rapid expansion of demand for public care services coincided with the retrenchment of social spending caused by a rapidly deteriorating fiscal deficit. It became clear that the government would not be able to meet the future increase in care demands without radical reform. As a result, Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI) was introduced in 2000. In the case of childcare, the state response was triggered by declining fertility. The main rationale, in order to raise fertility, was that it was necessary to ease the pressure of child-rearing on women, and one of the ways of doing so was to encourage women to work. However, the relationship between state provision of care and fertility was never clearly spelled out or understood, and the policy response to childcare was half-hearted and confusing. This paper by Aya Abe describes the scale of the elderly care problem in Japan, examines the government’s role in providing care and, to a lesser extent, considers the market’s role before and after the introduction of the LTCI. It also looks at changing patterns in state provision of childcare. The paper expands on the idea of the “care diamond” introduced by Razavi and applies it to care for the elderly and children in Japan in order to compare the two...
Description: Includes abstract in French and Spanish
Project Number: 103903
Project Title: Political and Social Economy of Care : Gendered Dimensions in Selected Developing Countries
Access: IDRC Only
Copyright: UNRISD
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