Older Workers: Lessons From Japan

John B. Williamson Masa Higo

WOB#11

Introduction

Working longer is one way to improve the retirement security of today’s older workers. It increases retirement resources while shrinking the period over which these resources will be needed. Working longer would also contribute to economic growth, allowing the nation to benefit from the knowledge and skills of older Americans. And it could potentially reduce spending on federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As U.S. policymakers consider ways to encourage people to extend their worklives, one place to look is Japan, the only major industrial nation with higher labor force participation rates among older workers than the United States. This brief presents five reasons why the Japanese work so long.