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"What makes you anxious about life after 65?" ―Advice to the worlds' aging population from Japan

  • Read in Japanese
  • 2016/01/14
  • Graduate School of Economics
  • Designated Associate Prof. Yoshihiko Kadoya

Designated Associate Prof. Yoshihiko Kadoya of the Graduate School of Economics at Nagoya University has successfully determined anxious factors that cause anxiety about life, and mental stress and excess precautionary savings, resulting in a vicious circle in economics, after the age of 65. For this, the researcher has analyzed evidence from international research in Japan, the United States, China, and India.
In this study, three main factors were revealed. The first one is that anxiety about life, after age 65, is influenced by how people think about the future. The second, financial wealth, such as assets and savings from salary, can decrease anxiety about the future, but only if prices in society are stable. The third, surprisingly, is that living with one's children does not always decrease a person's anxiety about life after age 65.
People's anxiety about life after age 65 has reached an unprecedented level. This is particularly noticeable in Japan because the population belonging to the productive age is decreasing as birth rates are falling and aging population is increasing. Such an anxiety influences the social economics and people's health and quality life. These research results are expected to be relevant while designing government policies to ease people's anxiety about aging.
This study was published online in Review of Economics of the Household, the topmost journal on household economics, on September 28, 2015. → Nagoya University Press Release

Japan—the country with the longest life expectancy in the world—plays an important role as a frontrunner in the world’s health economics.

"Japanese socio-economic issues and research findings, related to the falling birth rate and the aging population, are gaining much attention in the world."

Designated Associate Prof. Yoshihiko Kadoya, Graduate School of Economics at Nagoya University, has been approached by government administrators from all over the world, as a guide on policymaking decisions for aging populations. Many countries, looking for guidance on policymaking for an aging population, hope to learn from the examples of Japan, which is the country with the longest life expectancy in the world.

In this study, Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya analyzed the survey results from the data obtained between December 2011 and March 2012 in order to determine the factors of anxiety about life after the age of 65, which cause mental stress and excess precautionary savings resulting in a vicious circle in economics. The evidence was collected from a dataset of about 5,000 males and females between 40 and 64 years of age in Japan, the United States, China, and India, each governed by its own unique social security systems.

What are the anxiety factors for life after 65? Are they assets, the availability of family for nursing care, or any other factors? How can we decrease such anxiety?

—The answers can be important for government policymaking.

Japanese population and future estimated between 1920 and 2060. (Source: "IPSS Population Pyramid (estimated in January 2014) " accessed on January 4th in 2016 on National Institute of Population and Social Security Research)


―To resolve Japanese issues

"Japan stands at the forefront on social issues relating to the falling birth rates and aging population. Therefore, the information released from Japan is important to the world."

Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya has extensively studied health economics as it relates to social issues in Japan. In fact, in his unique career, he has concentrated on the health economics as his specialty since he was a Ph.D. student.

Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya was drawn towards public business marketing systems through a job experience after graduation. He was especially interested in social economic issues in Japan as the leading country with an aging population*.

*Japan’s ratio of the aged (65-year olds and older) against the total population was 25.78% in 2014. (Data: GLOBAL NOTE www.globalnote.jp)

He was determined to study further in a Ph.D. course to resolve Japanese issues, and motivated himself to acquire scholarships to study abroad while working as a coordinator for international youth exchange programs in the Cabinet Office.

After enrolling at Sydney University, Australia, his Ph.D. thesis has gathered global attention because it shows a simulation design that is based on a detailed analysis of Japanese data. Furthermore, it is written in English. (The Japanese version “kaigo shijo no keizaigaku” will be released from The University of Nagoya Press in February 2016).

Governmental administrators all over the world, therefore, have consulted him about policymaking for the aging population.

With governmental administrators of Thailand. Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya (Center in the photo) was consulted as a guest speaker for policymaking for the aging population. (Photo : by courtesy of Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya)

―To suggest the design of policymaking

Designate Associate Prof. Kadoya is interested in the world’s social security systems relative to a country’s economic size and how people think about the future. He aims to suggest the design of policymaking to support a sustainable and minimum level of life security.

He joined the Human Behavior and Socioeconomic Dynamics Group led by Prof. Fumio Ohtake in the Global COE (Centers of Excellence) project at Osaka University, and began an international survey targeting the following four countries: China, India, the United States, and Japan, with extremely different growth rate of the aging of population, and social security systems.

For the survey questionnaire, the Ordered Probit Model was applied. For example, the statement: “I am worried about life after 65” was answered through five different levels of agreement or disagreement. The answers obtained were then analyzed to determine how much anxiety was felt by the respondents in terms of age, sex, salary, assets, and pension to support their living expenses. The causal relationship between these factors and anxiety for life after 65 was assessed mathematically, applying robustness check and Generalized Structural Equation (GSE) model.

For the survey in these four countries, each translated version was prepared and carried out adapting to local circumstances by many researchers as well as Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya.

In the survey, men and women between 20 and 69 years of age were randomly chosen.

In Japan, nationwide visit-placement surveys of individuals and households were conducted and from this dataset, 2,579 observations covering 40 to 64-year olds were targeted for the analysis.

In the United States, because of its large geographic size, mail surveys were sent to individuals and households across the nation, except the states of Alaska and Hawaii. From this dataset, 1,190 observations of people between 40 and 64 years old were analyzed.

In China and India, the concern that people may not read letters triggered the consideration of face-to-face interviews. From that, 735 and 493 observations of people 40 to 64 years old were analyzed in China and in India, respectively.

As a result, anxiety factors about life after age 65 in Japan, the United States, China, and India could be described based on their social and cultural backgrounds.

In Japan and the United States, the anxiety factors seem to decrease with the following factors: assets, a partner, and exercise habits. Furthermore, especially in Japan, people with a higher pension to support living expenses showed decreased anxiety factors.

In China and India, on the other hand, such a trend is not apparent.

In China, even if people have either assets or a partner, their anxiety for the future is not reduced. Researchers additionally observed this trend indicating that Chinese people were not interested in the future because price fluctuations and an uncertainty for the future meant that current assets and family environment do not guarantee the future.

In India, soaring house prices is now a trend; therefore, if people possess hard assets such as houses, their anxiety about life after age 65 seems to decrease.

It is also worth noting that, for all the four countries, living together with one’s children does not always reduce anxiety after age 65.

“With convincing evidence based on the bare data, this research results could help a country determine the level of its people’s anxiety about life after 65 and influence its design of governmental policymaking.”

Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya mentioned that this study’s achievement raised more attention than expected. He shows enthusiasm to keep challenging the world’s health economic issues, as a researcher to introduce the Japanese experience to a global audience.

A discussion scene of lab members (Photo : by courtesy of Designated Associated Prof. Kadoya)


—How should we cope with the decrease in the population of productive age as birth rates fall?

Designated Associate Prof. Kadoya explained that this condition is an opportunity for young people because salaries will rise with a labor shortage and productivity can be covered with creative ingenuity and science technology.

Japan, the most advanced country with aging population, has a world leading position in the health economic research field. Interdisciplinary collaboration between medical science technologies can expand this field of study thereby taking advantage of the research from Japan.

That is, in order to release the anxiety of their future,

—young people are expected to achieve their professional activities in various interdisciplinary fields.

(Ayako Umemura)

Researcher featured in this article

Dr. Yoshihiko KadoyaDesignated Associate Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Nagoya University

Dr. Kadoya graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics, Meiji University, and then worked at a private company. He then completed his master’s degree at the Graduate School of Public Management, Waseda University. During that time, he participated in international exchange studies at McGill University in Canada. In 2007, after winning scholarships, he got into a Ph.D. course at the School of Economics and Business at the University of Sydney. He won a pre-doctoral research award at the University of Sydney in 2010 and obtained a Ph.D. degree in 2011. After that, he worked as a researcher at the University of Sydney Business School, as a designated assistant professor at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Osaka University, and as a lecturer at the Graduate School of Economics at Nagoya University. He has been in his current position since October 2015, and is responsible for the Program for Leading Graduate Schools, Nagoya University.


During an interview with Dr. Kadoya, I was impressed with what I learned from him and said to myself “that is exactly true!” This is because I have not noticed like I have had first-hand experience of seeing Japanese social problems as being a natural part of the Japanese culture. Surely, the issue of an aging population that Japan has been facing can be useful for other countries, too.
In addition, Dr. Kadoya is coping with a vast global health economic research field and has a wide social experience of connecting more than 2,000 people in 130 different countries of the world. I am excited as I think of his further achievements in this field (by AU)


Kadoya, Y.

What makes anxious about life after the age of 65? Evidence from international survey research in Japan, the United States, China, and India.

Review of Economics of the Household, forthcoming.

(First published on September 28, 2015; doi: 10.1007/s11150-015-9310-0)


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