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JSTAR (Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement)

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This website provides information regarding the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR), a panel survey of elderly people aged 50 or older conducted by the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (hereinafter "RIETI"), Hitotsubashi University, and, more recently, the University of Tokyo. Detailed survey results as well as information regarding the use of the micro-data collected in the survey, which are made available (subject to approval by RIETI) to researchers belonging to universities and/or research institutes, can be found here.

1. What is JSTAR?

In order to establish a sustainable social security system in Japan, whose population is aging ahead of other developed countries, it is crucial to make available micro-data on the diverse aspects of the lives of elderly people. Extensive surveys have been conducted on elderly people in many other countries, and the resulting data have been utilized not only for academic and research purposes, but also as a valuable input for real-world policymaking. Despite the rapid aging of the Japanese population, no statistical survey that could properly capture the diversity of the elderly population from various viewpoints had been carried out in Japan until recently.

Against this backdrop, RIETI and Hitotsubashi University jointly launched a comprehensive survey of elderly people in 2007 to collect panel data on their lives and health, with the University of Tokyo joining from 2009 onward. The data collected in this survey include diverse information on the economic, social, and health conditions of elderly people. In addition, the survey is designed to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, comparability with preceding surveys such as the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in the United States, the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) in continental Europe, and the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) in the United Kingdom. Therefore, by analyzing JSTAR data, researchers can track the characteristics of the Japanese elderly population in terms of both their specificity and universality in the world. In this sense, JSTAR is Japan's first-ever globally comparable panel data survey of elderly people.

2. General Outline, Questionnaire, and Summary Results of the JSTAR Survey

For the general outline and summary results of the 2007 JSTAR survey, refer to the JSTAR First Results 2009 Report, which also includes the sampling design, response rates, and other detailed information on the survey.

The 2009 JSTAR survey includes a follow-up survey of the respondents to the 2007 survey and an initial survey of elderly people in two additional municipalities, i.e., Tosu in Saga Prefecture and Naha in Okinawa Prefecture, whereas the 2011 JSTAR Survey includes follow-up surveys of the respondents to the 2007 and 2009 surveys plus an initial survey of elderly people in three additional municipalities, i.e., Chofu in Tokyo, Tondabayashi in Osaka Prefecture, and Hiroshima in Hiroshima Prefecture. For the response rates for the 2009 and 2011 surveys, see the Status of Responses to the 2009 JSTAR Survey" and "Status of Responses to the JSTAR Survey 2011."

The questionnaires can be downloaded by clicking on the links below. As in the aforementioned surveys in the United States and Europe, the JSTAR survey is composed of two parts: a self-completion questionnaire (SCQ) and a computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) section.

2007 Survey
2009 Survey
2011 Survey

Summary statistics derived from the 2007, 2009, and 2011 JSTAR surveys are contained in the respective Codebooks below, which are downloadable along with the Correspondence Table showing the relationship variables in the first two surveys.

3. Use of the JSTAR Datasets

The JSTAR survey was conducted for the purpose of contributing to academic research and policymaking. The resulting data are made available free of charge, but only to qualified researchers, higher education institutes, and administrative agencies that have agreed to follow the stringent conditions of use set by RIETI and only in the case that such data are used for academic and statistical research purposes. Approval or disapproval of applications for the use of JSTAR data will be determined by RIETI after considering the opinion of an internal advisory committee, and notification will be sent to applicants.

3-1. What Types of Data are Available for Use?

The JSTAR datasets, which are available in Stata and CSV formats, include multidimensional personal information that may lead to the identification of individuals. Standard users—i.e., researchers approved to use JSTAR data requiring Level H (high) confidentiality protection management as defined by the Application Criteria for Use of the JSTAR Datasets—are provided with data that have been compiled accordingly to prevent individuals from being identified. Specifically, the following measures will be taken to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information:

  1. Detailed geographic information (specific addresses of individuals surveyed including the residential districts) and municipality-level geographic information are deleted;
  2. Information about respondents' attributes and those of their families is top coded and certain sensitive information is deleted;
  3. Economic variables such as income, expenditures, and assets are top coded;
  4. Data provided in medical and nursing care insurance claims are aggregated; and
  5. Randomly selected data constituting 90% of the total sample are made available.

For further details on the measures to protect personally identifiable information, refer to the following document.

From the viewpoint of protecting the confidentiality of personally identifiable information, the use of less processed JSTAR data is subject to stringent regulations and rigorous approval procedures. Access to such information—requiring Level VH (very high) confidentiality protection management if the requested datasets contain municipality-level geographic information and Level UH (ultra high) if the datasets contain detailed geographic information—is approved only when the use of such information is deemed, in the judgment of RIETI, to be essential to the particular research being conducted and under the condition that the applicant(s) and researcher(s) concerned fully abide by confidentiality requirements as stipulated by RIETI. It should be noted that Level VH and Level UH data will not be provided in electronic media form or any other portable form. Such data are accessible only via the Secured Access System for Elaborated Study (SACSES), which is RIETI's proprietary remote control system and usable only on Windows XP machines with a Japanese language environment, to prevent any possibility of the leakage of such information. Specifically, in the case of using Level UH data, researchers must visit RIETI and use the workstations in the designated rooms within the RIETI premises, which is in addition to the use of SACSES.

The scope of data made available differs across the levels of confidentiality. The following table provides a quick reference about the scope of data accessible at each confidentiality level.

Confidentiality Level Scope of Data Made Available
Level H (High) Randomly selected data, constituting 90% of the total sample and with personally identifiable information deleted to ensure confidentiality, will be provided.
Level VH (Very High) The full sample datasets containing the geographic information (addresses of individual respondents only to the municipality level) will be provided. It should be noted that the use of the Level VH datasets is approved only when such geographic information is deemed essential to the particular research being conducted. Approved users may work at their own workstations, but are required to access the datasets via the RIETI remote control system (SACSES). (Please note that SACSES is usable only on Windows XP machines with a Japanese language environment.)
Level UH (Ultra High) The full sample datasets containing detailed geographic information (specific addresses of individual respondents) will be provided. The use of the Level UH datasets is approved only when such detailed geographic information is deemed essential to the particular research being conducted. Approved users are required to visit RIETI and use its workstations to access the data via the RIETI remote control system (SACSES). Please note that applications may be filed only when the datasets are to be used in RIETI research projects.

3-2. Who is Qualified to Apply?

Qualification requirements that must be met to apply for the use of JSTAR data are defined for each confidentiality level.

Level H Datasets: Requirements for Application

Applications may be filed when the requested data are to be used either in research applying statistical techniques or for educational purposes for institutions of higher education, such as universities and technical colleges.

(1) With regard to applications for using the datasets for research applying statistical methods, all of the following conditions (i) through (v) must be met:

  1. Confidential datasets are only used for research applying statistical methods;
  2. Confidential datasets are only used for the purposes listed in the application for use;
  3. Results of the research using the confidential datasets will be disclosed;
  4. Necessary measures are taken to administer the confidentiality of the datasets appropriately; and
  5. The application falls under one of the following categories:
    1. The application is for research that contributes to the enhancement and development of research applying statistical methods. Thus, the application must be made specifically by researchers belonging to a university or research institute that has a researcher(s) whose work has been published in academic journals above a certain level; or
    2. The application filed by government agencies is for research applying statistical methods and the resulting research findings are to be used for policymaking purposes such as publishing white papers and preparing materials for government advisory councils.

(2) With regard to applications for using the datasets for educational purposes for institutions of higher education, such as universities or technical colleges, all of the following conditions (i) through (iv) must be met:

  1. Confidential datasets are only used for educational purposes related to the research applying statistical methods;
  2. Confidential datasets are only used for the purposes listed in the application for use;
  3. Contents of educational activities using the confidential datasets will be disclosed; and
  4. Necessary measures for students to administer the confidentiality of the datasets appropriately are attached to the application for use and the implementations of such measures are ensured.
Level VH Datasets: Requirements for Application

Applications may be filed only when the requested data are to be used in research applying statistical techniques. All of the conditions (i) through (vi) listed below must be met:

  1. Confidential datasets are only used for research applying statistical methods;
  2. Confidential datasets are only used for the purposes listed in the application for use;
  3. Results of the research using the confidential datasets will be disclosed;
  4. Necessary measures are taken to administer the confidentiality of the datasets appropriately;
  5. The datasets containing municipality-level geographic information are essential to the particular research being conducted; and
  6. The application falls under one of the following categories:
    1. The application is for research that contributes to the enhancement and development of research applying statistical methods. Thus, the application must be made specifically by researchers belonging to a university or research institute that has a researcher(s) whose work has been published in academic journals above a certain level; or
    2. The application filed by government agencies is for research applying statistical methods and the resulting research findings are to be used for policymaking purposes such as publishing white papers and preparing materials for government advisory councils.
Level UH Datasets: Requirements for Application

Applications may be filed only when the datasets are to be used in RIETI research projects. Access to Level UH datasets for any other purpose is prohibited.

For details about the qualification requirements for applicants and the obligations of approved users, refer to the Application Criteria for Use of the JSTAR Datasets and the RIETI Regulations Regarding the Protection and Management of Confidential Datasets, both of which are downloadable below. Those applying for the use of the JSTAR datasets must read, fully understand, and agree to the criteria and regulations prior to filing the applications.

3-3. Publishing Findings from Research Using the JSTAR Datasets

Users of the JSTAR datasets for academic and statistical research purposes must credit RIETI, Hitotsubashi University, and the University of Tokyo upon publication of their research findings in the following manner:

In the text, the following statement must be included: "The Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) was conducted by the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Hitotsubashi University, and the University of Tokyo."

In the references section, the following statement must be included: "JSTAR datasets, produced by the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Hitotsubashi University, and the University of Tokyo, are distributed by RIETI in Tokyo, Japan."

RIETI is to be notified and sent a copy of any publication or transcription (research papers, research reports, lectures, media reports, etc.) produced by using the JSTAR datasets, or a link to such work if it is published online. Please send such correspondence to RIETI either by e-mail or postal mail at the addresses listed below. In the case of e-mail, in the subject line, please specifically state "JSTAR - Publication of Research Findings."

The users of the JSTAR datasets must let RIETI announce and/or make available their resulting works on the RIETI website.

3-4. Procedures for Application and Use

Applications for the use of the JSTAR datasets can be filed only after applicants have read, fully understood, and agreed to the Application Criteria for Use of the JSTAR Datasets [PDF:48KB] and the RIETI Regulations Regarding the Protection and Management of Confidential Datasets [PDF:94KB]. The JSTAR datasets are classified as the "Developed Confidential Datasets" defined in the regulations. Please note that the review process will usually take about two months (or longer if it coincides with a holiday(s) or in the case of insufficient or missing information in the application).

(1) Application and Confirmation Forms Prior to Approval

An application for the use of the JSTAR datasets may be filed by a single researcher for use in his/her individual research project or for use in a joint research project by a group of researchers. To initiate the application process, file the Application Form for Use of the Confidential Datasets and the Confirmation Form to Verify User's Understanding of Confidentiality Protection Issues (both downloadable below), filling all necessary information and affixing your inked handwritten signature. In the case of a joint research project, the confirmation form must be filed by all of the prospective dataset users listed in the application form (hereinafter "listed users"). Please send them in the original hardcopy by Express Mail Service (EMS) to RIETI (see the flowchart of the standard application process). Or alternatively, you may send the scanned PDF copies of the application documents via e-mail to jstar@rieti.go.jp (see the flowchart of the alternative application process), in which case you will be asked to submit the original hardcopy of each of the above documents after your application is approved (see 3-4 (2)). Please make sure you use your e-mail account assigned by your affiliated organization (university, research institute, etc.) in sending your applications via e-mail. Applications sent via web-based personal e-mail accounts will not be accepted.

In applying, you must appoint a Confidential Datasets Manager who will be responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of the datasets. In the case of a single-person research project, you shall serve the role of the Confidential Datasets Manager. In the case of a joint research project, you shall name either yourself or a member of the research group to serve the role of the Confidential Datasets Manager. You are also required to provide a brief explanation of the purpose(s) of the use of the JSTAR datasets so as to ensure that such datasets will not be used for any purpose other than the stated research and/or educational purpose(s).

Please make sure to look at the sample descriptions prior to filling out the form.

If you are a graduate student, please also submit the Form for Supervisor's Approval for the Use of the Confidential Datasets (downloadable below) with your supervisor's handwritten signature. In the case that your application is filed using the alternative application process, send this form in the scanned PDF format. Again, please make sure that you keep the original hardcopy of the form with your supervisor's inked handwritten signature for submission later.

Please make sure to look at the sample descriptions prior to filling out the form.
(2) Agreement Form after Approval

Once your application is approved, RIETI will send you the Terms and Conditions for Use of the Confidential Datasets. After reading and fully understanding the terms and conditions set forth therein, fill in all necessary information and sign the Agreement Form for Required Terms and Conditions per Use of the Developed Confidential Datasets (downloadable below), and submit it to RIETI. If you filed your application using the alternative application process, please also send the original hardcopy of each of the application documents filed earlier in the PDF format, i.e., your application form and each listed user's confirmation form (and your supervisor's approval form if you are a graduate student) (see 3-4 (1)). As is the case for the confirmation form, the Agreement Form for Required Terms and Conditions per Use of the Developed Confidential Datasets must be filed by all of the listed users. Also, please note that this form must be filed after your application is approved and you have received the Terms and Conditions for Use of the Confidential Datasets. The agreement forms filed prior to the approval (for instance, at the time of application) are invalid, and you (and your fellow researchers) must re-submit them.

All of the documents filed at this time must be the original hardcopy bearing the inked handwritten signature of the relevant individual(s) and sent by Express Mail Service (EMS).

Please make sure to look at the sample descriptions prior to filling out the forms.

Flowchart
Standard Application Process at a GlanceHighslide JS[ Click to enlarge ]
Standard Application Process at a Glance
Alternative Application Process at a GlanceHighslide JS[ Click to enlarge ]
Alternative Application Process at a Glance

(3) Changing the Confidential Datasets Manager

In the case where the application has been filed and approved for use of the confidential datasets by a group of researchers, if the person named as the Confidential Datasets Manager in the application is subsequently replaced, fill in all necessary information and sign the Notification of Changing the Confidential Datasets Manager (downloadable below) and send it by postal mail to RIETI.

Please make sure to look at the sample descriptions prior to filling out the form.
(4) Treatment of Datasets upon Completion of Designated Period of Use

Upon completion of the designated period of use, all datasets provided by RIETI must be returned to RIETI or disposed of by the users of such datasets, and each person (all listed users in the case of a joint research project) must notify RIETI of the treatment of the datasets (return or disposal) within one month, using the Declaration Form for the Status of Usage of the Confidential Datasets (downloadable below). In the case of returning the datasets to RIETI, this document should be attached to the datasets.

Please make sure to look at the sample descriptions prior to filling out the form.

(5) Forms Checklist and Mailing Instructions

All of the documents to be filed in the original hardcopy with RIETI—(1) Application Form for Use of the Confidential Datasets, (2) Form for Supervisor's Approval for the Use of the Confidential Datasets (only if the applicant is a graduate school student), (3) Agreement Form for Required Terms and Conditions per Use of the Developed Confidential Datasets, (4) Confirmation Form to Verify User's Understanding of Confidentiality Protection Issues, (5) Notification of Changing the Confidential Datasets Manager (if applicable), and (6) Declaration Form for the Status of Usage of the Confidential Datasets—must be sent by EMS to:

Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (Attn: JSTAR)
11th floor, Annex, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
1-3-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, Japan 100-8901

Documents in the PDF format and inquiries should be sent via e-mail to jstar@rieti.go.jp.

3-5. FAQs

Q1:

I have already sent my application documents in the scanned PDF format, and RIETI has approved my application. Why do I have to send these documents again by postal mail?

A1:

In principle, all documents related to the use of the JSTAR datasets must be filed in the original hardcopy with your inked handwritten signature, which is why you were asked to send the original hardcopy of each document. Although we allow applications to be filed in the scanned PDF format as a way to facilitate the review and approval process, we need to obtain the original hardcopy of each of the documents with the inked handwritten signature of the relevant individual(s) before providing the requested datasets. So, please make sure that you keep the original hardcopy of each of your application documents for submission upon our request.

Q2:

When I applied for the use of the JSTAR datasets from the 1st and 2nd waves, I was able to file a digitally-signed application via e-mail. Can I do the same in applying for the dataset from the 3rd wave?

A2:

No. Effective from July 1, 2013, the application procedure for the use of the JSTAR datasets has been changed, and we no longer accept digitally-signed applications and the same holds true for other documents. Please refer to Section 3-4 for the renewed application procedure.

Q3:

After submitting an application, how long will it take before I can receive the JSTAR datasets?

A3:

Before we can send out the datasets, we must go through several steps, namely, the review and approval of your application followed by the exchange of documents (RIETI will send you the "Terms and Conditions for Use of the Confidential Datasets," and, in return, you (and each of your fellow researchers in the case of a joint research project) will send to RIETI the "Agreement Form for Required Terms and Conditions per Use of the Developed Confidential Datasets" (together with the original hardcopy of each of the application documents filed in the scanned PDF format if you applied using the alternative application process). The whole process usually takes about two months. Therefore, you are advised to allow this period of time for the application processing plus time for delivery before you receive the datasets, although it may take longer depending on the content of your application. Please note that the review and approval process may take longer if it coincides with a holiday(s) or in the case of insufficient or missing information in the application. For the application process, see the flowchart of the standard or alternative application process as appropriate.

Q4:

In the application form, I am required to provide the MAC address of my computer. How can I find this?

A4:

In the case of computers using Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 or 8 operating systems, you can find the MAC address with the following steps:

  1. Open a Command Prompt window by clicking the Start button.
  2. Click All Programs and select Accessories.
  3. Click Command Prompt and type "ipconfig /all" (space between g and /).
  4. 12-digit Physical Address is the MAC address of your computer.

In the case of Mac OS 10.5 and later versions, you can find the MAC address with the following steps:

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and then select Network.
  2. Select Ethernet for wired connections and AirPort for wireless connections.
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. Click the Hardware, Ethernet, or AirPort tab.
  5. The 12-digit Ethernet ID or AirPort ID is the MAC address of your computer.

If the operating system of your computer is other than those provided above, search for this information on the Internet.

Q5:

There are three different levels of confidentiality—"high" (Level H), "very high" (Level VH), and "ultra high" (Level UH)—and I wonder into which confidentiality level do the datasets that I need for my research fall. Could you explain the differences among them?

A5:

Level VH and Level UH datasets contain geographic information (addresses of individual respondents to the municipality level in the case of VH and specific addresses in the case of UH) and thus require a higher level of protection compared to Level H datasets. Therefore, applications for Level VH and Level UH datasets are subject to stricter review. The use of these datasets is approved only when valid academic reasons explaining why such geographic information is essential to the particular research is clearly shown in the application and approved by RIETI. In order to prevent the leakage of information, Level VH and Level UH datasets are not provided in the form of electronic media. In the case of Level VH, you can work at your own workstations but are required to access the datasets via the RIETI remote control system (SACSES), which is usable only on Windows XP machines with a Japanese language environment. In the case of Level UH, you are required to visit RIETI and use its workstation to access the data via the SACSES. For these reasons, you are advised to apply for Level H datasets unless you have an absolute academic necessity to use datasets of a higher confidentiality level.

Q6:

May I send the scanned PDF version of my application for the review and approval process from my web-based personal e-mail address and use it as my contact information?

A6:

No. You are required to use your e-mail account assigned by your affiliated organization (e.g., university, research institute) for all correspondences with RIETI, including the submission of the application form in the scanned PDF format. Applications sent via web-based personal e-mail accounts will not be accepted. Please note that all of the contact e-mail addresses of listed users (and that of your supervisor if you are a graduate student) must be the ones assigned by the appropriate organization.

Q7:

Who needs to submit the Agreement Form for Required Terms and Conditions per Use of the Developed Confidential Datasets and the Confirmation Form to Verify User's Understanding of Confidentiality Protection Issues?

A7:

All listed users—i.e., not only the applicant but also all individuals who are to use the JSTAR datasets—must submit these two forms to verify their agreement to the terms and conditions and their understanding of the confidentiality nature of the datasets.

4. Related Works

Papers

"Stability of Preference against Aging and Health Shocks: A comparison between Japan and the United States"
  • HASHIMOTO Hideki, ICHIMURA Hidehiko and SHIMIZUTANI Satoshi
  • RIETI Discussion Paper Series 13-E-068 August 2013
"The Future of Long-term Care in Japan"
  • SHIMIZUTANI Satoshi
  • RIETI Discussion Paper Series 13-E-064 July 2013
"Self-Rated Health Status of the Japanese and Europeans in Later Life: Evidence from JSTAR and SHARE"
  • FUJII Mayu, OSHIO Takashi and SHIMIZUTANI Satoshi
  • RIETI Discussion Paper Series 12-E-061 October 2012
"Redistribution Effect of Taxes and Social Security: Evidence from JSTAR"
  • NAKATA Daigo
  • RIETI Discussion Paper Series 12-J-028 August 2012
"Option Value of Work, Health Status, and Retirement Decisions: New evidence from the Japanese Study on Aging and Retirement (JSTAR)"
  • SHIMIZUTANI Satoshi, FUJII Mayu and OSHIO Takashi
  • RIETI Discussion Paper Series 12-E-050 August 2012
"Effect of Pension Reform on Pension-Benefit Expectations and Savings Decisions in Japan"
  • OKUMURA Tsunao and USUI Emiko
  • RIETI Discussion Paper Series 11-E-065, September 2011
"JSTAR First Results 2009 Report"

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