A Culture that Supports Old Age: A Regional Comparison and International Comparison

Project Title

A Culture that Supports Old Age: A Regional Comparison and International Comparison

Cooperating researcher

NAKAMURA Kiyoshi  Professor and Dean of Faculty/Faculty of Humanities


Declining birthrates and the ageing of the population are already occurring in East Asia including Japan, and countries are moving toward a welfare state. On the other hand, in Southeast Asia and South Asia, where many countries are said to continue to enjoy a demographic bonus period, there is no structured state-mediated social security system. In the Republic of Indonesia, where the demographic bonus period is expected to continue until around the 2030s, the country is undergoing relatively rapid modernization. In Bali, for example, in tandem with progress in population control (family planning), marrying at a later age, migration to cities and the shift to tertiary industries, the birthrate is tapering and the aging of the population and rural depopulation are progressing. One common phenomenon observed in various East Asian societies is the need for communities to care for the increasing number of the elderly whose families and relatives can no longer be depended on for assuming this role. How, then, have communities responded to this situation? This project examines the possibilities of a new welfare system for the elderly through a cultural comparison of the resilience of communities faced with the challenge of declining birthrates and aging populations, and brings to the fore initiatives for supporting the elderly in social conditions where a welfare system is lacking.

In this project, Kagaya discovers inventive ways in which villages in Okinawa and Aizu – which are experiencing decreasing birthrates and aging populations as well as difficulties in applying a diverse welfare system due to their small populations – maintain village services, and undertakes a comparative study to shed light on factors for including the potential for the creation of such activities. In a comparative study of villages in Bali and Lombok, Nakamura also explores how villages in the mountainous areas of Bali and migrants from those areas to cities in Lombok are dealing with such conditions. In a further comparison of survey results of Kagaya and Nakamura, the project will begin to construct a theoretical framework of a form of welfare system for the elderly where the state plays a minor role.

Project Members

Name Title/Department Area of Specialization
NAKAMURA Kiyoshi Professor and Dean/Faculty of Humanities Cultural anthropology
KAGAYA Mari Associate Professor/Faculty of Humanities Folklore, cultural anthropology


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