Survey reveals Japanese youth don’t want to live into their 80s, experience anxiety over money like young Singaporeans

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Photo: Youtube screengrab

In a survey conducted in June, shocking results show that Japanese in their 20’s do not want to live into their 80’s. For a country whose average life expectancy for males and females are consistently ranked among the highest in the world, this is disturbing news.

MetLife, Inc., the insurer who conducted the survey, shared the provocative results with the world last Sunday. It found that men between the ages of 20 and 29 want to live to approximately 78.1 years old. Women of the same ages said they only hoped to live to 76.9 years old.

The results of the survey clash harshly with the “100-Year-Life Society” government campaign of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Young people in Japan are just not on the same page when it comes to how long they want to live.

These preferred life expectancy figures have dropped significantly from 2017’s results of  81.09 years for men and 87.26 years for women. The difference is startling, especially for the women, who on average want to live about a decade shorter. That is 10 years of their lives that they are willing, or even worse, that they want to give up.

While this is distressing news, it bears looking into the reasons why this is the case. In the survey, 81.7% of participants had concerns about old age, and 41.2% just did not want to live too long.

BUT WHY?

Results showed that thinking about money in relation growing older was just too overwhelming.

For Japanese youth in their 20’s, anxiety over financial instability was the primary reason that they did not want to live too long. In fact, of the survey’s 14,100 participants, 27.1% were not expecting to receive any pension payments in the future.

In Singapore, where life expectancy rates are also among the highest in the world, young Singaporeans are worried about money, too.

In a survey this August that was commissioned by insurance cooperative NTUC Income and conducted by global measurement company Nielsen, only 1 in every 5 youths in Singapore believe that their parents have enough money saved up to finance their retirement. To follow that, 85% of them do not trust that their parents have planned for retirement and expect to worry and provide over them in their senior years.

The survey also reported that two-thirds or 66% of the youth have factored in the cost of looking after their retired parents, but only 8% confessed confidence at the thought of supporting their parents financially.

When questioned further, 70% of them foresaw the necessity to indulge in fewer personal interests and “downgrade” their lifestyles in order to be able to assume financial responsibility over their parents in the future. According to them, this included giving up personal advancement such as overseas job opportunities, moving into a smaller home, foregoing a car and even delaying marriage.

To compound this further, there recently has been a lot of dissatisfaction from the youth on Singapore’s much-discussed national budget. The budget was released in February by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and supported by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has emphasized the necessity to both honour Singapore’s elderly and nurture its youth.

The youth has struggled with the stress and responsibility of having to pay for the needs of the future generation, as a majority of Singapore’s population is aging. 

In the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Survey for Singapore Perspectives 2018, more than a third of Singaporeans from the ages of 20 to 34 share the viewpoint that “each generation should take care of itself, without the need to be supported by other generations.”

Just like the Japanese, Singapore’s young people are carrying the burden of future financial worry on their shoulders.

It is not enough to live in a progressive country where good health and long life are both valued and expected. Ultimately, what is the use of living longer if you will not enjoy it?