Dying Alone Becomes New Normal as Japan Spurns Confucius – Bloomberg 02-19-13

Salient to Investors:

An erosion of traditional Confucian values in Japan means fewer elderly are being cared for at home by relatives.

Japan has the world’s highest proportion of retirees, and the lack of long-term care facilities means seniors increasingly risk living alone in ill-equipped homes or suffering abuse in the care of resentful relatives.

The OECD says that by 2025, 1 in 3 Japanese will be 65 years or older versus 12 percent in 1990. The OECD said increase in the number of suicides in South Korea among people ages 65 years and older was spurred by an economic slowdown and the erosion of traditional family support.

Hiroshi Takahashi at the Intl University of Health and Welfare said the system is designed for the 1970s, when multiple generations lived together and family caregiving was thought to continue forever – no longer the case. Takahashi said that from now through 2030, an estimated 470,000 seniors will die alone, and Japanese society and the system will blow up around 2025 without a drastic change.

National Institute of Population and Social Security Research said that by 2030, the number of seniors living alone will increase 54 percent from 2010 levels.

The Center for Strategic Intl Studies said Confucian-influenced societies from Vietnam to South Korea are grappling with the conflicting demands of modernization and traditions that venerated the elderly and obligated families to care for them. The Center said that over the next few decades, massive age waves will engulf the region, slowing economic growth, driving up old-age dependency costs, and heaping large new burdens on governments and families alike.

The proportion of adults older than 60 in populations worldwide is increasing more than 3 times faster than the overall growth rate. Within 5 years, adults 65 years and older will outnumber children younger than 5 for the first time. The WHO predicts there will be 2 billion people 60 years or older by 2050, versus 605 million in 2000.

The United Nations Population Division says that by 2040, almost 40 percent of the population will be at least 60 years old in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan versus 14-to-18 percent of the population in 2010, and 29 percent in China by 2040 versus 12 percent in 2010.

In 2010, 18 percent of Japanese older than 65 years lived with their children versus 53 percent in 1980.

Read the full article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-19/dying-alone-becomes-new-normal-as-japan-spurns-confucius.html

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