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comparative politics international relations

“Elderly Identity and Trade Policy Preferences in an Aging Society: Evidence from Japan”

The fifteenth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on May 27, 2021. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Yesola Kweon (Utah State University) presented her paper, “Elderly Identity and Trade Policy Preferences in an Aging Society: Evidence from Japan.” In her presentation, Kweon discussed her research on an understudied topic within political science and the social sciences more broadly, the policy preferences of older citizens. Existing studies assume that senior citizens are favorable toward trade as they assess the topic only as consumers who stand to benefit from more affordable imported goods. Kweon challenges this assumption using analysis from a survey experiment conducted in Japan, an aging society. Her study finds that in aged regions where elderly poverty is a more pressing issue, senior citizens are more likely to oppose trade and implies that assumptions within existing studies of trade politics about how age influences policy preferences should be re-examined.

Discussant comments were offered by Andy Baker (University of Colorado Boulder) and Megumi Naoi (University of California, San Diego). The discussion raised interesting questions about the politics of trade, socio-economic inequality and dislocation as well as the distribution of social welfare in developed countries with ageing populations including but not limited to Japan. The discussants and the audience also offered many constructive suggestions pertaining to research methods and possible future directions of the research.

This event attracted many participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/