Addressing loneliness and social isolation amongst elderly people through local co‐production in Japan
Loneliness and social isolation have become a significant problem in contemporary Japan. The financial burden associated with an ageing population has severely constrained the ability of local authorities to address the problem. As a result, policymakers have sought cost‐effective methods of tackling the problem. This article investigates the impact of loneliness and social isolation on wellbeing and then examine two illustrative case studies of local co‐production programs aimed at tackling social isolation amongst older adults in Japan.
- Kohei Suzuki, Brian E. Dollery, Michael A. Kortt
- 04 September 2020
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A significant problem associated with an ageing population is the increasing prevalence of loneliness and social isolation amongst older people. Quite apart from its adverse impact on the day‐to‐day wellbeing of these citizens, loneliness and social isolation have substantial detrimental mental and physical health effects. Consequently, there are strong public policy imperatives for remedial intervention and a wide range of policy instruments that have been used across the world.
The sheer magnitude of population ageing in Japan, together with ongoing fiscal constraints on government in an era of austerity. have compelled municipal policymakers to display considerable ingenuity in seeking cost‐effective methods of tackling loneliness and social isolation, including extensive collaboration with local community groups through co‐production. This draws on a long and vibrant tradition of civic volunteering in Japanese society, frequently centred on natural disaster management. Co‐production aimed at reducing loneliness and social isolation have strong comparative advantages apart from its cost‐effectiveness.
Against this background, this article seeks to contribute to the literature on tackling social isolation amongst older people through co‐production at the local level by examining the Japanese experience through the prism of two case studies.