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社説:超高齢社会 「肩車型」の常識を疑え

May 05, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Aging society does not necessarily spell doom
社説:超高齢社会 「肩車型」の常識を疑え

Longevity is something to be celebrated, but when it comes to the aging of Japanese society, it is often discussed in a pessimistic tone.
 長寿はおめでたいことなのに、高齢化となると悲観論をもって語られることが多い。

One reason for this is the continuing decline in people of working age. Learning that our society is shifting from one in which four working people financially support one senior citizen, to another in which each working person must support one senior citizen -- a so-called "piggyback" setup -- would make anyone anxious. And indeed, that is exactly what is happening.
現役世代の人口が減り続けているせいでもある。現役4人が高齢者1人を背負う「騎馬戦型」から、現役1人が高齢者1人を背負う「肩車型」になると言われたら誰しも不安になるだろう。たしかに人口比率はそのようになる。

This unfolding state of affairs has prompted calls to raise Japan's tax and insurance rates, which are some of the lowest among all industrialized nations around the world. But perhaps because Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other officials lack the rhetoric to persuade the public of the validity of their policy, the push to establish a full-fledged piggyback arrangement appears to be undermining confidence in the country's social security system.
 だからこそ先進国最低レベルの国民負担率(税と保険の負担)をもう少し引き上げるべきだという文脈で「肩車型」説は登場したはずだったが、野田佳彦首相らの言い方がまずいのだろうか、逆に社会保障制度の信頼性を揺るがせているようにも思える。

It would be ironic if the number of people signing up with the national pension or health insurance plans were to shrink as a result.
そのせいで年金や保険の未加入者が増えているのだとしたらあまりに皮肉だ。

So let us take a closer look at why piggyback systems spur pessimism.
現役の負担は増えない ここは世の「肩車型=悲観論」の常識を疑ってみようではないか。

Accepting the premise that the ratio of working-age citizens (people aged 15 to 64) to senior citizens (those aged 65 and over) will eventually become one to one, the important thing when evaluating the stability of the social security system is the ratio between those in the work force earning money, and those who are being supported.
現役(15~64歳)と高齢者(65歳以上)の人口比がいずれ1対1になるのは間違いないとして、社会保障の安定性を考える上で大事なのは働いて所得を得ている層と「支えられる側」の比率であることを忘れてはならない。

It's not just senior citizens that the working population supports.
「支えられる側」にいるのは高齢者だけではない。

It was common for families to have and therefore provide for many children in the era immediately after World War II, but the number of children per household has been in decline more recently.
戦後間もないころの親は大勢の子供たちを育てていたが、今は子供の数が減り続けている。

Those who required financial support in the past also included housewives, the disabled, and those who were ill, but today, there are more two-income households than single-income households, and the employment of the disabled is on the rise.
 また、以前の「支えられる側」には専業主婦、障害者、病気の人も含まれていたが、今は専業主婦世帯よりも共働き世帯の方が増え、障害者の雇用率も上がっている。

Moreover, there are far more people working past the age of 65 today than there were before.
また、65歳を過ぎても働いている高齢者は以前と比べものにならないほど多くなった。

Shut-ins and NEETs (people "not in education, employment, or training") undoubtedly do exist, but even taking such populations into account, the ratio between those who do the supporting and those who receive support has barely changed over the past few decades.
ひきこもりやニートなど現役世代で働いていない人もいるが、これらのデータを含めて総合的に見ると、「支える側」と「支えられる側」の比率はこの数十年ほとんど変化がない。

If senior citizens and housewives continue to work outside the home, thereby expanding the population providing for those who need support, the burden on the working population should not increase.
今後も高齢者や主婦が働いて「支える側」が厚くなれば、高齢化率の伸びほどには現役世代の負担は増えないだろう。

The theory that social security costs will surge at a rate of 1 trillion yen per year as Japanese society continues to age, widening intergenerational economic gaps, also calls for closer analysis.
 もう一つ、悲観論の根拠である「高齢化に伴って社会保障費が毎年1兆円ずつ増え、世代間格差が広がる」という説も考えてみよう。

During a time when it was common for three generations of families to live together, caring for elderly parents and children was considered the work of the wife, while the husband was expected to earn money for all household expenses.
 3世代同居が当たり前だった時代は、老いた両親の介護や子供の保育はもっぱら妻の役割とされ、その妻を含めた大家族全員の生活費を現役世代の夫が一人で支えていた。

As nuclear families and single-person households become the norm and the number of children drops, the burden of caring for elderly family members and bringing up children becomes relatively light.
ところが、核家族やひとり暮らしが当たり前になり、子供の数も減ってくると、親の介護や保育の負担は相対的に軽くなる。

If elderly parents are able to live on social security and personal savings, the financial burden on the working generation is alleviated.
老いた親も年金や預金で生活できるようになれば、現役世代の経済的負担は少なくなる。

Of course, there are many senior citizens who receive a low level of social security benefits or none at all, and there is no end to the number of people who leave their jobs to focus on caring for their aging parents.
 もちろん、無年金や低年金の高齢者は多く、親の介護のために離職する人も後を絶たないが、

However, compared to a time when neither social security nor nursing care insurance was available, the burden on working citizens has not become categorically worse.
年金も介護保険もなかったころに比べれば、今の現役世代の負担は一概に重くなったとは言えない。

Rather, inheritance per capita has risen, and people generally have more opportunities and funds to receive an education.
むしろ1人当たりの相続財産は以前より多く、教育を受ける機会や費用も増えている。

In other words, the impression people commonly have of the piggyback arrangement, and the actual generational gap in burdens are very different.
「肩車型」のイメージと世代間格差の実相はかなり違うと考えるべきだ。

Rising social security costs may pose great pressure on government finances, but if the increased costs are translated into better nursing care and childcare services, it could lighten the load on families in the working generation.
 国家財政レベルでは社会保障費の増加は圧迫要因かもしれないが、増加分が介護や保育サービスの充実に回れば、現役世代の家族内の負担は軽減されていく。

One of the intended functions of the social security system is to collect a larger proportion of taxes and insurance premiums from high-income workers, and redistribute it to those with lower incomes.
もともと社会保障は所得の多い人から税や保険料を多く集め、所得の少ない人に回す再分配の機能を持つ。

What's important is not just whether the costs are expanding, but whether the funds are being redistributed effectively.
費用の膨張だけでなく、再分配が有効に機能しているかどうかが問題なのである。

There is a group, sometimes called the "platinum generation," whose age makes them "senior citizens" but are actually a part of the population that give the piggyback rides.
プラチナ世代に注目 「支える側」で特に注目すべきなのは元気な高齢層だ。
年齢区分では「高齢者」とされるが、実は肩車の下側で支えている。

Among those who turned 65 this year are pro-baseball team Rakuten Eagles' manager Senichi Hoshino and the comedian and film director Takeshi Kitano.
たとえば、今年65歳になった人を見ると、プロ野球の星野仙一楽天監督、タレントで映画監督の北野武氏をはじめそうそうたる人物が各界で名を連ねる。

They're full of life and are highly unlikely to go into retirement anytime soon.
そう簡単に隠居などしそうにない、ピカピカの現役である。

Readers must also know many people who are 65 or older who one wouldn't think to describe as "elderly."
「お年寄り」と呼ぶのもはばかられる65歳以上はあなたの身近にも多いはずだ。

In a story on post-war Japanese medicine and insurance last year, the British medical journal The Lancet wrote about the "platinum generation" -- called so because while its members technically fit into the "silver generation," they are shiny and bright instead of dull like oxidized silver.
Japan must recognize not only that our people are living long lives, but also that our country has produced a large population of energetic seniors.
 年齢的にはシルバーだが、いぶし銀のような地味さはなく色あせずに輝き続けるという意味で「プラチナ世代」と呼ばれたりする。
戦後の日本の医療や保険の成果について昨年、英医学誌「ランセット」が特集したが、単に長寿だというだけでなく元気な高齢世代を大量に出現させた功績も見逃してはならない。

It is not rare to see former businessmen and researchers in the sciences finding success in areas such as social welfare and farming after retiring from their original jobs.  ビジネスマンや理系研究者が定年後、福祉や農業などの分野に転身し成功している例は今や珍しくない。

We would like senior citizens to break bravely into uncharted fields, making use of the abundant knowledge and experience they've accumulated over the years.
未知の分野に果敢に飛び込み、長年培ってきた豊富な知識や経験を生かしてほしい。

It is at the intersection of various values that we can hope to find clues that will pave the way to a new era.
多様な価値観がぶつかり合うところに新しい時代を切り開くヒントが生まれるはずだ。

To fully harness the skills and talents of the platinum generation, medical and welfare systems must change.
 プラチナ世代が輝き続けるためには医療や福祉も変わらねばならない。

With old age, most people develop illnesses and disabilities.
高齢になれば誰だって病気や障害は持つものだ。

We must make a quick shift from our current acute medical model concentrating on curing patients, to a medical and nursing care model that allows people to continue working and living with purpose while living with chronic ailments.
「治す」ことを目的にした急性期医療モデルから、治らなくても生きがいを持って働き続けられるような慢性期の医療・介護モデルへの転換を急ぐべきだ。

Once the platinum generation comes to account for a much larger proportion of those who provide support to those who need it, our nation will look very different.
 大量のプラチナ世代が「支える側」に回ったとき、この国のかたちはずいぶん違って見えてくる。

Excessive pessimism is uncalled for.
過度の悲観は禁物だ。

Let us think about how we ourselves can continue to give piggybacks as long as possible.
どうやって「支える側」に居続けられるかを考えよう。

毎日新聞 2012年05月05日 02時30分
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by kiyoshimat | 2012-05-10 07:10 | 英字新聞

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