Aging, Economic Growth, and Old-Age Security in Asia

Aging, Economic Growth, and Old-Age Security in Asia

Edited by Donghyun Park, Sang-Hyop Lee and Andrew Mason

First, the expert contributors argue, Asia must find ways to sustain rapid economic growth in the face of less favorable demographics, which implies slower growth of the workforce. Second, they contend, Asia must find ways to deliver affordable, adequate, and sustainable old-age economic security for its growing elderly population. Underpinned by rigorous analysis, a wide range of concrete policy options for sustaining economic growth while delivering economic security for the elderly are then presented. These include Asia-wide policy options – relevant to the entire region – such as building up strong national pension systems, while other policy options are more relevant to sub-groups of countries.

Foreword

Edited by Donghyun Park, Sang-Hyop Lee and Andrew Mason

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, asian development, social policy and sociology, ageing

Extract

Rapid demographic change toward older populations is one of the biggest, if not the single biggest, medium-term structural challenge confronting developing Asia in the post-global crisis period. Throughout Asia, the share of the elderly in the population is rising as a result of falling fertility and rising life expectancy. Within the common region-wide trend of demographic change, there is considerable heterogeneity. Some countries, such as the Repulic of Korea and Singapore, are at an advanced stage of the demographic transition while others such as India and the Philippines are at an early stage. Yet others, such as the People’s Republic of China and Thailand, are in between. Diversity in the level and speed of population aging across Asian countries implies that each country faces unique aging-related challenges. Nevertheless, the demographic landscape of even younger Asia countries will be fundamentally altered by 2050, which means that all Asian countries should start preparing now for demographic change. Broadly speaking, demographic transition poses two huge strategic challenges for Asia: (1) sustaining growth in the face of less favorable population structures; and (2) delivering affordable, adequate and sustainable old-age income support for the region’s fast-growing elderly population. With respect to sustaining growth, a youthful population structure contributed substantially to Asia’s rapid economic growth in the past. Benign demographics implied a working-age population and hence workforce which is large relative to the population. However, the demographic dividend is coming to an end across the region, albeit at different speeds in different countries. With respect to...