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January 2011 to present

Comparative Policy Responses to Demographic Change in East Asia

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Photo credit: 
iStockphoto.com/Kevin Russ

Researchers

Principal Investigator
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Sociology
Senior Fellow
Visiting Scholar

Launched in January 2011, Comparative Policy Responses to Demographic Change in East Asia is a three-year research initiative at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC). It examines the rapid demographic changes that are profoundly shaping the political, economic, and social landscape of the Asia-Pacific region. The responses to demographic change in Japan, South Korea, China, and their neighbors have great potential for long-term regional effects, and also shed light on the demographic challenges facing the rest of the Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe.

Over the course of the project, researchers will address key questions, such as:

  • How have individuals, families, communities, and policymakers responded to demographic change? How should they?
  • How will national and social identities transform as population aging strains traditions of filial piety and immigration disrupts ethnic homogeneity?
  • Will the economies of East Asia languish, or will a “second demographic dividend” spur renewed economic growth?
  • In particular, will demographic change slow China’s rise? How has rapid urbanization changed China’s governance? How have education and health policies shaped investments in China’s youth (the future workforce), and how might policies be improved to counter growing disparities? How sustainable are China’s expanding social insurance programs?  

The research initiative grew out of a February 2009 conference, co-organized by Shorenstein APARC and the Global Aging Program at the Stanford Center on Longevity. Aging Asia: Economic and Social Implications of Rapid Demographic Change in China, Japan, and Korea brought together 20 scholars from Shorenstein APARC, Stanford, and institutions throughout the United States and East Asia. Its outcome was a book of the same title, published by Shorenstein APARC in 2010, covering a diverse range of issues of demographic change, including intergenerational transfers in Japan, marriage and the elderly in China, pension reform in South Korea, and the Asia-Pacific diabetes epidemic.

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