Increased Travel Frequency May Lead to Happiness and Reduce Dementia: An Analysis of the "Travel Divide" (5)

Increased Travel Frequency May Lead to Happiness and Reduce Dementia: An Analysis of the "Travel Divide" (5)

In this article, we explore how increasing travel frequency among seniors could significantly reduce societal costs. Previously, according to Sony Life's 'Senior Living Consciousness Survey 2023,' we discovered that many seniors wish to travel. But why do people want to travel?

Research conducted by Tohoku University's Institute of Aging Medicine and the travel giant Club Tourism indicates that frequent travelers experience increased happiness. This research involved a survey of about 835 individuals around the age of 60 who participated in Club Tourism's tours. The study, titled "Curiosity–tourism interaction promotes subjective wellbeing among older adults in Japan," has been published on Nature's website.


According to this study, the 'Subjective Happiness Scale (average score)' was 4.55 for individuals who traveled more than 10 times a year, 4.34 for those who traveled 5-9 times, 4.52 for 3-4 times, 4.13 for 1-2 times, 4.09 for those traveling only once every 2-3 years, and 4.11 for those who hardly traveled at all. Assuming the annual travel frequency of individuals who traveled more than 10 times as 10, those who traveled 5-9 times as 7, 3-4 times as 3.5, 1-2 times as 1.5, once every 2-3 years as 0.4, and hardly traveled as 0.2, the correlation coefficient with the previously mentioned 'Subjective Happiness Scale' is a very high 0.82.

Travel Frequency and Subjective Happiness Scale

Note: The 'Travel Frequency per Year' is a premise calculated by our company in the text.

Source: "Curiosity–tourism interaction promotes subjective wellbeing among older adults in Japan"


From this, it seems that the reason people want to travel is to become happier. More importantly, a higher 'Subjective Happiness Scale' has been proven to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Travel stimulates the brain and body, fulfills 'diverse curiosity,' and enhances 'subjective wellbeing.' 'Diverse Curiosity' refers to a personality trait where one seeks a wide range of information. The correlation coefficient between 'Diverse Curiosity' and 'Subjective Happiness Scale' is 0.83, and between travel frequency and 'Diverse Curiosity' is 0.92.

If increased travel frequency results in greater happiness and lowers the risk of dementia, as this study suggests, then encouraging seniors to travel more is not only beneficial for the travelers themselves but also a societal necessity.

According to the study "Future Projection of the Population with Dementia in Japan," the number of dementia patients in Japan is expected to increase from 5.17 million in 2015 to 8.02 million in 2040. These projected numbers are based on the 'estimated number of patients adjusted by the nationwide survey reported by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2012' and another 'estimated number calculated by a mathematical model,' which predicts 8.26 million patients by 2040.

Number of dementia patients in Japan

Source: "Future Projection of the Population with Dementia in Japan"


A study published by Keio University in March 2015 titled "The Economic Impact of Dementia in Japan" estimated the social cost of dementia in 2014 to be 14.514 trillion yen. The breakdown is 1.9 trillion yen for medical expenses, 6.4 trillion yen for care expenses, and 6.2 trillion yen for informal care costs. 'Informal care costs' refer to care and support provided free of charge by families and non-profit organizations.


Furthermore, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International's 'World Alzheimer Report 2015,' the number of people with dementia worldwide is expected to increase from 46.78 million in 2015 to 131.5 million by 2040. The global increase in the aging population and the accompanying surge in the prevalence of dementia with age are the reasons for this increase. The cost of dementia worldwide was 818 billion dollars in 2015 and is expected to reach 1 trillion dollars by 2018 and 2 trillion dollars by 2030. The 2 trillion dollars surpasses Italy's GDP of 1.9 trillion dollars, which was ranked 7th in the world's nominal GDP rankings in 2020.

Numbers of people with dementia


Source: Alzheimer’s Disease International 'World Alzheimer Report 2015'


Thus, both in Japan and worldwide, substantial societal costs due to dementia are anticipated. Creating an environment where seniors eager to travel can do so more easily, leading to an increase in travel frequency, which in turn brings about happiness and reduces the risk of dementia, as well as decreases societal costs, would be most beneficial. This clearly indicates the necessity of addressing the 'Travel Divide.'

Next time, we will analyze the potential for significant economic effects if the senior population increases their frequency of travel.


Back to blog