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Japan – Middle-aged workers increasingly quitting jobs to care for parents

14 May 2013

The proportion of middle-aged Japanese men quitting their jobs to take care of elderly parents is on the rise, according to data from a new study by Japan’s Institute for Research on Household Economics. According to the study, 13.4% of men aged between 40 and 64 are living with parents who are requiring nursing care – these men had quit their jobs to care for their elderly relatives. Data also showed that 27.6% of women facing the same situation quit their jobs to do the same.

“Turnover among men to provide care to their parents is rising,” said Keiko Tanaka, a researcher at the Institute. The increase of men quitting their jobs to do this leads to data that also shows more men remaining unmarried, as married men would have a hard time quitting their paying jobs to care for the elderly if they have their own family to support. Women are meanwhile more likely to undergo this process and quit work to care for parents due to most of them having a spouse who is the primary breadwinner. This study was based on a survey conducted between September and November 2011 on the Internet. Respondents were made up of 206 men and 264 women. The average age of the respondents was 52.6.

Given that the respondents had to spend around 69,000 yen (almost USD 700) on the average per month for home-based care, Tanaka said that these men and women “are squeezed by high nursing costs.” Tanaka further stressed the need to provide enough government support to caregivers. Globally, Japan has the highest percentage of elderly in its population among all nations. Paired with a decreasing birth rate, the government has a two-pronged problem of trying to decrease the overall age of the population – by encouraging young Japanese to look towards pregnancy and building a family – and trying to provide support for an increasing elderly population through government-backed nursing homes.

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