International symposium “The Sustainability of the Nordic Care System from an East Asian Perspective”

The International Symposium "The Sustainability of the Nordic care system from an East Asian perspective: the relationship between public and private actors in elderly care" was held at the Graduate School of Policy Sciences on the 16th of November, 2023. Due to declining of birthrates, increasing aging populations and globalization, care for the elderly has become a common issue in both the West and the East. The aim of the symposium was to share information on the changes in the current situation regarding this common issue over the last 20 years and how the relationship between public and private actors providing elderly care has changed, and to look for small clues to solve the problem through dialogues.


Three professors spoke as guest speakers. Prof. Klaus PETERSEN from Denmark, specializing in the history of the welfare state, Prof. Sang Hun LIM from South Korea, specializing in social policy, and Prof. Yang YU, a Chinese economist specializing in public economics and social security, explained the current situation in their own countries, including an international comparative perspective.


Prof. PETERSEN from Denmark pointed out that, under the common Nordic idea of the Nordic welfare model, the changes that have occurred in Danish elderly care policy over the past 20 years had led to a decline in the quality of care due to the use of technology and robots and the involvement of the private sector. He explained that the shortage of 'warm hands' of care workers, to the extent that the expectations of quality of care fostered by past economic growth could not be met, had produced a social dilemma, which was being actively debated in Parliament.


Professor LIM from South Korea presented research on the role of social economy organizations (SEOs) in the social services sector. Many SEOs receive government support to help raise the social value (ex. emmployment) of vulnerable groups. However, they are not well connected to local communities, and he pointed out the challenges for SEOs in terms of democratic governance.


Professor YU from China lectured on the diversity of elderly care systems in Japan and China over the last two decades. While Japan has implemented an independent elderly care insurance system consisting of three parts (premiums, taxes and co-payments), China has experimented with an elderly care system based on health insurance policies. To solve the shortage of care personnel, both countries are promoting ICT and DX, but new operational challenges keep arising and the care robot market is limited.


Finally, after the two Japanese discussants had summarized the discussions and raised new issues, the undergraduate and graduate students from various countries actively asked questions, and it was impressive to see how seriously they take the sustainability of society through care for the elderly as an issue in their own countries. The three guest speakers were from different countries and had completely different specializations: history, sociology, and economics. It was truly a learning experience at the Graduate School of Policy Sciences to challenge common policy issues through information sharing and dialogue with multi-disciplinary perspectives.




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