Social differentiation in later life: Exploring the interaction between wealth, education and retirement trajectories in Japan and the UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sch for Policy Studies

Abstract

The process of retirement is becoming more complex and differentiated in terms of timing and resources. 'Active Ageing' policies in many societies now encourage older workers to work up to and beyond retirement age. However, the reasons and opportunities to do so depend greatly on individual factors such as skills, incomes and health status. The level of education also matters in retirement process since different educational groups have different information, resources and attitudes toward investment for later life. Better educated people are for example more likely to retire on a planned basis with sufficient income and assets. Another key influence on retirement, which is absent from existing research, is the importance of household wealth - home ownership, in particular. Home ownership as an asset-base has been recognised as a key to build social and financial capital and to access increasingly privatised welfare in old age. While housing wealth is the primary component of personal wealth for the majority of households in home-owning societies, this is however not necessarily the case in societies with high rates of personal savings and/or suffering from housing price depreciation. Access to home ownership has declined among younger cohorts in many societies which means future generations are expected to work longer.

This project will therefore go beyond the conventional indicators of income and formal retirement age to analyse social inequalities in later life. Instead, it will explore and identify the relationship between housing wealth, the level of education, and extended working life of ageing baby-boomers in Japan and the UK. The cross-national analysis is a vital part of the project since opportunities and constraints to work longer vary significantly between countries. In order to understand inequalities at retirement, we need to gain more insight into how institutional systems (e.g. retirement age, social security, attitudes of employers) and individual human capital (e.g. skills, qualifications) together influence retirement processes of older people. The rationales to compare Japan and the UK are: they are both home-owning societies but with contrasting housing price appreciation (UK) and depreciation (Japan); in both societies, saving towards retirement is largely privatised, and the state and employers are encouraging older people to work longer with incentives and sanctions.

The main objective of this Connection project is to bring together scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds of Social Policy, Economics, Management and Housing Studies to develop the knowledge and understanding of the relationships between wealth, education, work and retirement in different welfare systems. A series of workshops are planned in Japan and the UK to provide a platform for the project members to exchange ideas, analyse comparative data, and identify methodological challenges. The workshops are not only an avenue for scholarly discussion, but also for knowledge exchange with non-academic stakeholders. It aims to provide information, analysis and insight to help policy makers, unions, employers and other organisations in supporting older people in financial and later-life career planning. The preliminary findings of the project will be disseminated using a project webpage, blog posts, academic article/s and a policy briefing including employers good practice. The project will contribute to reframing policy debate surrounding extended working life and explore early interventions in retirement planning. This is a new collaboration and the project team members have complementary research skills and expertise as well as a strong track record of comparative analysis.

Planned Impact

We will employ a variety of means to achieve impact from our preliminary findings with a range of beneficiaries in providing a more detailed understanding of people's decisions to retire in relation to their finance and educational background in the particular institutional and market contexts, using a combination of digital, personal and formal communication strategies. This connection grant will allow us to develop a preliminary analysis and comparative methodology for a future, fuller research project. This is a networking grant and thus a more significant impact will be anticipated from the future empirical-based research project.

The project team members have extensive networks and a strong track record in working collaboratively with policy makers and practitioners in both countries, in particular, in delivering evidence-based support to employers and individuals in extended working life.

Through the participatory workshops in Japan and the UK, knowledge exchange is planned with policy makers and non-state stakeholders such as trade unions, employer organisations (e.g. Business in the Community, Japan Organisation for Employment of Older People, Persons with Disabilities and Job Seekers) and interest groups supporting older people (e.g. Age UK).

Apart from the workshops, we will develop the following communication and dissemination tools for non-academic users:

- A project webpage: Our digital anchor to provide information about the project, hyperlinked list of useful documents, datasets and organisation contacts, updates and downloadable outputs. The webpage will be set up at the beginning of the project and updated as appropriate to ensure on-going impact throughout the course of the project.
- Blog posts: At least two blog pieces from each team member will be published online to raise awareness of the issues (e.g. current employment/retirement trends, the nature and determinants of inequalities at retirement, cross-national diversity, good practice by employers) among non-academic stakeholders and the general public; as well as disseminate preliminary findings.
- A policy briefing: A publication of concise, high quality policy briefing in English. Key policy and practice conclusions will be drawn from our comparative analysis. Some useful lessons can be learnt from each national policy and employer good practice. Printed edition will be distributed to non-academic users and relevant mailing lists; it will also be available free of charge as a download on the project website.

In addition, we will use PolicyBristol (A virtual centre at the University of Bristol showcasing policy-relevant work to users outside the academic community), University Press Office, and other channels through the affiliation and networks of the project members to disseminate policy and practice relevant preliminary outcomes.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Tokyo workshop in July 2019 
Organisation Japan Housing Finance Agency
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Knowledge exchange with representatives of the organisations through the stakeholder workshop in Tokyo (Keio University, 13 July 2019). The research team made a series of presentations prior to the stakeholder presentations and discussion.
Collaborator Contribution Representatives of the organisations presenting their relevant knowledge and expertise in the selected themes at the stakeholder workshop in Tokyo. Knowledge exchange with project academic members and non-academic participants.
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Tokyo workshop in July 2019 
Organisation Japanese Trade Union Confederation
Country Japan 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Knowledge exchange with representatives of the organisations through the stakeholder workshop in Tokyo (Keio University, 13 July 2019). The research team made a series of presentations prior to the stakeholder presentations and discussion.
Collaborator Contribution Representatives of the organisations presenting their relevant knowledge and expertise in the selected themes at the stakeholder workshop in Tokyo. Knowledge exchange with project academic members and non-academic participants.
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Tokyo workshop in July 2019 
Organisation Tama City Government, Tokyo
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Knowledge exchange with representatives of the organisations through the stakeholder workshop in Tokyo (Keio University, 13 July 2019). The research team made a series of presentations prior to the stakeholder presentations and discussion.
Collaborator Contribution Representatives of the organisations presenting their relevant knowledge and expertise in the selected themes at the stakeholder workshop in Tokyo. Knowledge exchange with project academic members and non-academic participants.
Impact Not yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Stakeholder workshop in Tokyo 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The first workshop was held in Tokyo (Keio University) in July 2019 to facilitate knowledge exchange between the project members and non-academic stakeholders. As part of the workshop, leading policy makers and practitioners in related areas of employment, finance, housing and city planning presented current situations and emerging issues facing 'super-aged' Japanese society. Further details please see https://policystudies.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/2019/07/29/the-impact-of-housing-wealth-on-retirement-inequality/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://policystudies.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/2019/07/29/the-impact-of-housing-wealth-on-retirement-ineq...
 
Description UK academic and stakeholder workshop (Bristol) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 5 papers were presented by project team members and researchers/practitioners from Age UK Bristol, Resolution Foundation and UCL (former International Longevity Centre). The workshop generated a series of questions and discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://policystudies.blogs.bristol.ac.uk/2021/10/15/wealth-and-retirement-uk-and-japan/