In Japan, a rapidly increasing proportion of crime is being committed by people over 65 years old. Per capita, more elderly Japanese are imprisoned today than in the last 20 years and many offenders are repeating the petty crimes that landed them there. Some explain the increase in pensioner crime as a response to insufficient pension pay, while others attribute loneliness and lack of community engagement. But in a recent feature on the BBC, pensioners confessed to seeking prison sentences to live for free.
For Japan's ageing population, does the financial upside of being inside outweigh the limited freedoms of living in poverty? What does this say about the need for greater social security for ageing populations?
Japan faces what demographers call the “inverted pyramid” problem. That is, Japan’s population is heavily skewed towards the elderly or “top” of the demographic spread; the birth rate has remained low for half a century.
The question Japan now faces is how to pay for their elderly as their productivity decreases and no younger workforce steps up to provide. This socio-economic question is one being asked around the world, with all eyes watching closely how Japan attempts to answer.
Will Japan manage to care for their elderly better than their prison system can? What types of social, economic, and political initiatives are needed to achieve such a feet?