Do Social Isolation and Loneliness Affect Healthcare Spending and Utilization in Japan?

Main Article Content

Ü. Furkan Yüksel


Social isolation and loneliness are associated with worse health outcomes, and there is a growing literature that studies the economic cost of these conditions in terms of increased healthcare spending and utilization. However, a handful of existing studies mostly focus on Western countries. This article analyses the issue in the case of Japan using the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) dataset with the help of generalized linear and probit models. The results show that social isolation is associated with reduced healthcare spending, while loneliness does not have any statistically significant effect. Neither social isolation (living alone) nor loneliness has a statistically significant effect on healthcare utilization; that is, these measures are not associated with increased or decreased inpatient or outpatient visits. Therefore, care should be taken when launching social programs to tackle social isolation and loneliness to reduce healthcare spending and utilization because these two conditions might not be associated with increased healthcare spending universally.

JEL Codes: D00, I10, H51
Keywords: Social isolation, Loneliness, Healthcare spending, Healthcare utilization


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How to Cite
Yüksel, Ü. F. (2023) “Do Social Isolation and Loneliness Affect Healthcare Spending and Utilization in Japan?”, World Journal of Applied Economics, 9(2), pp. 149-162. doi: 10.22440/wjae.9.2.3.
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