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Meeting the income needs of older people in East Asia: using housing equity


In the welfare systems of East Asian countries, the income, care and other needs of older people have traditionally been met less by state social protection measures and more by the family, supported by what might be termed the first homeownership strategy: widening access to home ownership as a physical, emotional and financial basis of family wellbeing. Recent political, economic and demographic developments, however, have undermined this model. Examining policy responses in the three most advanced East Asian economies, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, but also with reference to Taiwan, the paper identifies common tendencies in the ways in which the ability to use home ownership has been strengthened. As a second strategy, home ownership has been used to reduce geographical constraints on family support, while, as a third strategy, governments have introduced mechanisms through which older people are able to realise some or all of the equity they have built up through the housing market. These mechanisms include, moving down market or even converting to a rental solution, as well as forms of reverse-mortgage products, some available through private financial institutions and some involving state-organised and state-operated devices.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: John Doling, Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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