【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.23: Number of workers in medical, long-term, and welfare care industry

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

As mentioned in column No. 6, the proportion of healthcare expenses in Japan to GDP increased from 7.2 % in 2000 to 10.9 % in 2016. Thus, the proportion of workers in medical, long-term, and welfare care industry to those in all industries increased from 7.5 % in 2002 to 12.5 % in 2016.

There are various kinds of facilities in the welfare care industry. However, because the population of young people is decreasing, it is difficult to secure new facility workers. This shortage of long-term caregivers and nursery teachers is becoming a political issue. One reason young people do not want to be long-term caregivers or nursery teachers is explained by their low salaries, compared to other industries. Therefore, the government has decided to increase subsidies.

However, even if salaries are moderately raised, the effort will be insufficient to secure workers. A structural problem is caused by the fact that most facilities are owned by small businesses that can only handle one operation. These are family businesses that do not have a career development program for their employees. Young people who are employed as a long-term caregiver or nursery teacher typically cannot design a future life plan in such small businesses. Thus, they change jobs right away. Therefore, one solution is to encourage social welfare corporations that play a central role in long-term and nursing care, to form a group for scale expansion.

Table 1. Number of workers in medical, long-term, and welfare care industry(thousand)


(Source)Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

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