2018 年 7 巻 2 号 p. 173-178
Although employment for the elderly and the disabled has been a serious issue in many countries, opportunities for work are still not widely available to them. This research focuses on how these workers make decisions in the face of limited opportunities, and identifies a certain behaviour on their part that is designated as “vicarious agreement”. When an elderly person wishes to continue working and to do so in the same company, or a disabled person wishes to join a new company, they realise at the same time that people around them, such as their colleagues or family, expect them to do what they do not really wish to do, namely, to retire, move to another company or give up the idea of joining this company. In the end they choose to do what is expected of them, rather than what they wish to do, often believing that this is a decision they have taken of their own accord. Such behaviour seems to come not from any innate sense of ambition or selfishness but from a sense of fairness instilled in their minds during the time they have spent in workplaces, at school and at home; and it has become part of their brain function. This phenomenon, commonly observed not only in Japan but also in other countries, suggests: 1) that it may bring about a labour market equilibrium and re-allocation of elderly and disabled workers; and 2) that it will undermine the effectiveness of any law or policy intended to promote the employment of such workers.