The Conundrum of Demographic Aging and Policy Challenges: A Comparative Case Study of Canada, Japan and Korea

Susan A. McDaniel

Abstract


Some analysts lean toward comparative analyses of population aging, then draw potential policy implications. Others lean in the direction of attention to differences in policy regimes and then consider implications of population aging. Key differences among advanced societies may not emanate from demographic aging but from differences in how markets, states, and families work to redistribute societal benefits. In this paper, three countries with contrasting configurations of markets, states, and families, and at different stages of demographic aging, are compared and contrasted: Canada, Japan, and Korea. The paper has three objectives: 1) to outline key changes in population, family, and work in the three countries; 2) to consider how knowledge about these changes, their dynamics and interrelationships, is framed with respect to policy options; and 3) to compare Canada, Japan, and Korea in terms of the framing of policy challenges related to demographic aging. It is found that Canada is joining the longstanding pattern of Japan and Korea of late home-leaving by youth, meaning less effective time in the paid labour force. Little deep connection exists between population aging and economic productivity or labour force shortages. Differential labour market participation of women mediates the effects of population aging.

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