Recidivist Retirees: Stealing for Sanctuary

Categories: social, economy, security

What? Some of Japan's elderly citizens are resorting to crime to supplement their paltry basic state pension of approximately US$ 7000/year. In some cases, the wave of crime is also an attempt to end up in prison where free food, accommodation and healthcare are readily available, causing strains in the Japanese prison system. Similarly, the United States is facing an aging population in its prisons, causing an increase in health care costs. For example, health care costs in Michigan State prisons have increased to 15% of the prison budget over the past 25 years.

So what? Increasingly aging populations, shrinking government budgets, and an ever more unpredictable global economic environment could put increasing pressure on the social safety net in a range of countries, especially on pensions. This may result in the rise of “recidivist retirees” where the elderly live alone and have no family, income or savings. Issues such as longevity and family breakdown could exacerbate the problem. As the future of work becomes more precarious, this phenomenon may spread to younger populations. Could prisons become an extension of the social welfare system?


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