Is Japan a Silver Democracy?

October 29, 2015 6:30 PM (finished)

John Creighton Campbell

(University of Tokyo and University of Michigan)

Date/Time October 29, 2015 6:30 PM
Location Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo  [map]
Abstract It is often argued that Japan is the world’s leading example of a “silver democracy.” It provides generous benefits to older people because there are so many of them, they vote at such a high rate, and they often live in over-represented rural areas. On closer examination, this depiction of Japanese old-age policy does not stand up to comparisons with other advanced nations; moreover, the timing of policy changes indicates that older people did better when they were fewer. The old-age vote does have policy implications but these are much narrower than implied by “silver democracy” as an analytic hypothesis—it is better understood as a motto for conservative politicians.
Bio John Creighton Campbell is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Michigan and is currently at the Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo University. He is the author of How Policies Change: The Japanese Government and the Aging Society (Princeton, 1992) and recently has been studying Japan’s Long-Term Care Insurance system as well as social policy more generally.