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2018.05.17

【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.107: Physicians' Demand and Supply Forecast

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

Since the number of physicians has increased from 211,797 in 1990 to 319,480 in 2016 (average increase of 4,142 a year), the number of physicians per 100,000 people has increased from 171.3 to 251.7 during the same period. However, a lack of doctors and uneven area distribution are still major problems.

Meanwhile, the number of new students accepted by university medical schools is 9,419 in 2018, which is the highest ever recorded. Given that the population continues to decrease by an average of 0.7% per year, there is concern over a future era of excessive physicians. Therefore, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has set up a committee to forecast physicians' demand and supply.

Table 1 shows the number of physicians as of the end of 2016 by type of workplace. The Ministry predicts that the number of physicians will have increased to 371,312 in 2040 from 319,480 in 2016, assuming that the number of medical school entrants (9,419) does not change (Figure 1). The Ministry estimates that the demand for physicians will be 350,000 in 2028 when the maximum number of working hours per week is 60 hours, and the demand will be 360,000 in 2033 when the maximum number of working hours per week is 55 hours. Since the number of physicians supplied in 2028 is estimated to be 349,433, if the maximum number of working hours per week is set to 60 hours, the demand and supply of physicians will equilibrate in 2028 and then become excessive. Even if the maximum number of working hours per week is set to 55 hours, the number of physicians will become excessive after 2033.


Table 1: Number of physicians by type of workplace (as of the end of 2016)
107-table1.png

Source: Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare


Figure 1: Physicians' demand and supply forecast
107-fig1.png



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