The Challenge of Sustaining Long-term Care in Aging Societies: Lessons From Japan and Spain; Comment on “Financing Long-term Care: Lessons From Japan”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain

2 Department of Applied Economics, Faculty of Economics and Business Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain


This article compares the provision of long-term care (LTC) in Japan and Spain, two countries with similar demographic structures but which address the provision of LTCs in very different ways. Both countries provide universal LTC. However, Japan has developed a generous benefit package of formal services for dependents to alleviate the care burden on the family, but provides no cash benefits. In Spain, on the other hand, cash allowances are the norm rather than the exception in the practical implementation of LTC services. After discussing the necessary delineation of LTC in response to future sociodemographic challenges, we discuss LTC system characteristics and the recent cost containment reforms implemented in Japan and Spain. Finally, we consider the lessons that may be drawn from each country’s experience and the reforms that must be undertaken in order ensure the sustainability of LTC provision in other countries with incipient or more developed LTC systems. In addition, since Japan and Spain are both faced with challenging demographic projections, it is important for each country to learn from the other’s initiatives and reforms.


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