Monday, 25 July 2022

Time Banks and the Caring Currency

Fureai Kippu is the (inflation-free since credits are units of time) caring currency in Japan, obtained by those who take care of the elderly, spent by them when they are in need of care. Part of the inspiration came from Teruko Mizushima who launched the Volunteer Labour Bank in 1973. The premise of her programme: A "woman's autonomy fluctuates during ther lifetime." When childbearing and childrearing, she needs to borrow time from others while in later motherhood, she might have additional time. Mizushima proposed a system of depositing and withdrawing these resources (Sugiyama Lebra, 1984).

Time banking is a concept based on reciprocity that ensures providing and receiving services in a community. It creates social interaction and (re)connection to communities and by doing so helps maintain physical and mental health, makes sure that vulnerable and isolated elderly people can be reached, provides active life in retirement, reduces costs of the health care system. Regions or cities for instance in Japan, China, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the United States have already introduced it.

Retired persons volunteering provide a few hours of service to help the elderly which ranges from accompanying them to hospital, dog-walking to bringing meals.  All services are equally valued (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). By volunteering, people earn and bank in the hours of credit which can later - when old - be used to purchase services from others. In other words, time is banked and used when needed (Ng & Fong, 2019). This approach means contributing to the "Big Society" with an ageing population (Harashi, 2012), contributing to the well-being and empowerment of the community. Time banks are social innovation (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016) and might change the image of older persons (Sultana & Locoro, 2016).

In Hong Kong, time banks are changing society from a recipient to a participant one. In 2017, a welfare counciel launched a three-year-banking project in one of the districts aiming to promote elderly to support each other and to improve relationships with neighbours (Ng & Fong, 2019). It developed globally in the 1980s and in the UK in the late 1990s (Gregory, 2014). In the past years, more and more time banks emerged in Spain (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). 

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- Gregory, L. (2014). Resilience or Resistance) Time Banking in the Age of Austerity. Political Science Journal of Contemporary European Studies, link
- Harashi, M. (2012). Japan's Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact. Political Science, link
- Ng, T., Yim, N. & Fong, B. (2019). Time banking for elderly in Hong Kong : current practice and challenges. CAHMR Working Paper Series 2(1).
- Sugiyama Lebra, T. (1984). Japanese Women. Constraint and Fulfillment. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
- Sultana, T. & Locoro, A  (2016). No More Throw-away 'Elderly' People: Building a New Image of Ageing via a Time Accounting System. In Markus Garschall, Theo Hamm, Dominik Hornung, Claudia Müller, Katja Neureiter, Marén Schorch, Lex van Velsen (Eds.), International Reports on Socio-Informatics (IRSI), Proceedings of the COOP 2016 - Symposium on challenges and experiences in designing for an ageing society. (Vol. 13, Iss. 3, pp. 35-42), link
- Valor, C. & Papaoikonomou, E. (2016). Time Banking in Spain. Exploring their Structure, Management and Users' Profile. Revista Internacional de Sociologia RIS, 74(1), link
- photograph by Dorothea Lange via


    1. Again, thanks!!

      1. interesting approach, these time banks. Many thanks, Kenneth!