More than half the public supports the idea of the social security burden being shouldered by all generations — the working population as well as the elderly, according to a government survey released Tuesday.
A total of 51.9 percent of the respondents are receptive to sharing the burden at a time when costs are growing amid the aging of the population, although criticism remains that younger people won’t be able to enjoy the same level of pension and medical benefits as the current elderly population.
The results of the online survey, conducted from Feb. 28 to March 1 with 3,144 adults responding nationwide, were incorporated in a government white paper submitted to the Cabinet by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoko Komiyama.
The survey also found that 22.3 percent of respondents feel it is not appropriate to put a greater burden on the working generation and that this should be placed on elderly people instead. In contrast, 15.0 percent believe workers rather than the elderly should shoulder a greater burden.
Meanwhile, 10.8 percent did not provide clear responses.
The survey found that the more respondents earn, the more they want a heavier burden on the elderly population.
Among respondents whose household income stood at ¥2 million to ¥4 million, 17.6 percent said it is inevitable that older people should bear a further burden, but the figure rose to 31.3 percent among those with more than ¥10 million in household income.
Gap said mitigated
The social security system is not necessarily disadvantageous to younger generations, as is often argued, in terms of the gap between the aggregate premium paid in and the overall benefits, the fiscal 2012 white paper on welfare and labor says.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry report disputes the oft-mentioned view that the social security system works disproportionately in favor of older people because they receive more benefits than younger people.
Improved living standards and household income levels among younger generations should be taken into account, it argues.
People born in 1940 would receive 6.5 times the amount they have paid in to the “kosei nenkin” public pension program for corporate workers, whereas people born in the 1980s and later would receive just 2.3 times their premium payments.
The government report points out that younger generations are better off than older generations in terms of benefits from social capital stock, government subsidies for child rearing and education, and the per-head value of assets inherited from their parents.
The argument about the differences in social security benefits between generations should not exclude these factors, the report says.
Regarding the comprehensive social security and tax reform legislation enacted earlier this month, the report stresses that the reform is designed to create a stable financial base for social security programs and to help improve the country’s fiscal health.
The ministry “will make efforts to educate people about the reform to avoid any misunderstanding such as one that the tax hike was given priority (over other reform issues),” it adds.
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