Do the elderly get more than their fair Share? Microlevel data analysis on generational conflict in Germany and Japan

Felix Lill, Hertie School of Governance

Growing longevity and declining birth rates have contributed to a rapid ageing of the German and the Japanese populations. As a consequence of this development, the relative share of the elderly population has increased in both societies. This development fueled a debate over the existence of a generational conflict, where younger and older generations, and po-tentially also persons within a generation, battle over scarce resources. This article contributes to this discussion by providing recent empirical evidence on individual attitudes towards government spending for the elderly in Japan and Germany. Based on wave 6 of the World Values Survey 2010-2014, I show that an age gradient in government spending exists in both countries. In particular for Japan, I find that with increasing age, respondents are less likely to agree to the statement that “Older people get more than their fair share from the government.” This finding stands at stark contrast to the great appreciation that elder people are receiving in the Japanese society in other respects. Against this, I argue that the treatment of the current elderly generation in the Japanese welfare state and pension scheme may have repercussions on the Japanese society and may erode intergenerational solidarity.

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Presented in Session 75: Economic and social consequences of population ageing