Column Global Economy 2021.04.20
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
The government enacted the Children and Youth Development Support Promotion Law in 2010 to tackle various problems, including domestic abuse, poverty, and youth unemployment. However, according to the data published in the Cabinet Office’s policy outline on April 6, 2021, the situation has worsened, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1 Data on social issues related to children and teens
(Source) Cabinet Office, The Policy Outline for Child and Youth Development Support Promotion
As shown in Table 1, the "Relative poverty rate for children under 18" dropped from 16.3% in 2012 to 13.5% in 2018, which seems to reflect an improvement. However, it is important to consider the following aspects:
(1) In its Family Database, the OECD publishes the ranking of the "Relative poverty rate for children under 18" across 42 countries. The highest among the 42 countries was China (33.1% in 2011). However, Japan, which had a relative poverty rate of 13.5% in 2015, still scored higher than the OECD average (13.1%) and was consequently ranked 21st. Moreover, looking at the relative poverty rate of single-parent households, Japan scored 50.8% in 2015, making it the third highest after South Korea (56.6% in 2016) and Brazil (54.8% in 2013).
(2) The rate is strongly affected by the direct impact of the recession on the poor. As mentioned in Column No. 302, Japan continues to suffer from medical collapse and economic stagnation due to the failure of the government’s measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the relatively low number of infections. Furthermore, due to the significant delay in vaccination compared to other developed countries, social chaos in Japan might remain until 2022. Therefore, it seems inevitable that the relative poverty rate for children under 18 in 2021 will continue to rise significantly.