The employment of older people: can we learn from Japan?

Bernard Casey

in The future for older workers

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9781847424181
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303800 | DOI:
The employment of older people: can we learn from Japan?

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Japan is frequently noted for its high level of labour force participation in older workers, in particular older men. In 2000, nearly ninety-five percent of men aged fifty five to fifty nine, nearly three quarters of those aged sixty to sixty four, and a third of those aged over sixty five were still economically active. Almost all of the economically active were working rather than being unemployed. High employment rates exist alongside a relatively low mandatory retirement age operated in many sectors of the economy — sixty, having risen from fifty-five over the past thirty years. They also exist alongside a payment system that makes older workers more expensive. The ‘lifetime employment’ system sets pay based on seniority and hence, effectively, in accordance with age. This chapter explores why, under these circumstances, and given the relatively poor performance of the Japanese economy during the past decade, such high rates of employment have been maintained. It also goes on to ask if they can be maintained in the future.

Keywords: Japan; labour force participation; older workers; high employment rates; lifetime employment

Chapter.  6713 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gerontology and Ageing

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