Friday, August 20, 2010

Registering Deaths in Japan

The issue of incentives for registering births and deaths, in general, is a tricky issue for research on historical health conditions. This story on the BBC website caught my eye today. The Japanese authorities are effectively trying to clean up their own data-bases by tracking down the many people they have listed on their books who are 100 years old or more. I am sure many of them will turn out to be sprightly old people who have obeyed a regimine of oily fish and exercise for their life time. However, it seems that some of them are actually long dead, including one lady whose bones were found in a rucksack and another person whose registered address was bulldozed 20 years ago. At least one potential reason for the prevalance of centenarians is that their benefits can still be claimed after their death by unscrupulous relatives.


Kevin Denny said...

This not peculiar to Japan of course. A while ago a guy in Dublin (Ballyfermot in fact) was found to have been collecting benefits for his deceased friend for about 15 years I think.
Next of kin are obliged to register a death but that doesn't mean they do and I am not sure there is any follow-up to check. Where there are estate issues to be resolved then it will happen but clearly there can be incentives not to.

Liam Delaney said...

I didn't speculate on the post but it would be worth thinking about whether this is just an isolated "forensic" issue or whether it might introduce some systematic distortions in admin studies of older poor. I would think the former but often we think things and the data show otherwise.

Kevin Denny said...

I would have guessed that unrecorded emigration is a bigger issue numerically but who knows.