The Elderly in Ageing Societies: Cost Factor or Safety Net? a Comparison of Family Regimes and Intergenerational Transfers in Germany and Japan.

Felix Lill, Herr
Rikiya Matsukura, Nihon University

Various works have argued that population ageing, leading to higher dependency ratios, provokes generational conflict over scarce resources. But while in numerous post-industrial economies, the younger cohorts are put at a comparative disadvantage through the labour market and the public sector, these imbalances have also been alleviated through informal downward transfers within the family. Comparing Japan and Germany, two pioneers of ageing, this paper investigates whether and to what extent the family institution can serve as a bulwark against generational conflict. Discussing their demographic positions in the OECD context as well as their welfare regimes, family traditions and policies causing welfare regime transition, the results are also relevant for a wider set of countries. As a commonality, financial pressure on the individual has increased in the last years due to changes in living arrangements, income levels and liberalising welfare policies. While this pressure has been stronger in Japan, the family policy response has been more comprehensive in Germany. The traditional role of the family, though, is even stronger in Japan than in Germany. According to typologies of Esping-Andersen (1990) and Shinkawa (2013), Japan’s welfare and family regimes are transitioning rather towards a liberal market-oriented type. Germany’s transition includes social-democratic and liberal elements. Departing from the logic of Brumberg and Modigliani’s (1954) lifecycle model and Mudrazija’s (2014) extension with overlapping generations as well as the descriptive basis the two most recent waves of National Transfers Accounts (2004 and 2009 for Japan, 2003 and 2008 for Germany), hypotheses are tested with the SHARE/JSTAR datasets. The main dependent variable is given private transfers. This work, still in progress, tests to what extent the elderly serve as a safety net for more precarious younger cohorts in either country. In light of institutional changes, the prospects to successfully deal with demographical changes are compared.

Presented in Session 105: Impacts of Population Ageing

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