RIEB Discussion Paper Series No.2019-23

RIEB Discussion Paper Series No.2019-23


Household Debt and Aging in Japan


In this paper, we analyze the borrowing behavior of Japanese households in comparison to the other Group of Seven (G7) countries and also broken down by the age group of the household head. We find that pre-retirement households (households with a head in the 50-59 age group) in Japan do not have inordinate amounts of debt and that their financial health is satisfactory. However, we also find that households with a head in the 30-39 age group have shown a sharp increase in debt holdings in recent years, due partly to the fact that tax breaks for housing purchase, reforms in the housing loan market since the early 2000s, and expansionary monetary policy enabled Japanese households to purchase housing at a younger age than they could previously. We therefore need to monitor the borrowing behavior of this cohort over time as the Bank of Japan normalizes its monetary policy, especially since households have become more vulnerable to rising interest rates as the share of households who have chosen variablerate housing loans has increased in recent years.


Aging, Borrowing, Debt, Households, Housing, Japan, Liabilities, Loans, Retirement

JEL Classification

D14, E21, G51, J14, R21


Charles Yuji HORIOKA
Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration
Kobe University
Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe
657-8501 Japan
Phone: +81-78-803-7036
FAX: +81-78-803-7059
Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University
Asian Growth Research Institute
National Bureau of Economic Research

Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University and Asian Growth Research Institute