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As Asia's population ages, worries grow about the future

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Publication Date: January 2002

Publisher(s): East-West Center

Author(s): Andrew Mason; Sang-Hyop Lee; Gerard Russo

Series: AsiaPacific issues ; no. 58

Topic: Economics (Economic policy, planning, and development)
Population and demographics (Older people)

Type: Report

Coverage: Asia

Abstract:

Asia, a region whose population has long been dominated by children, is seeing the proportion of its elderly rise rapidly. The U.N. projects the population 65 and older will more than quadruple by 2050, while the population under age 15 will decline. Though Asia's population is still younger than the West's, dramatic declines in childbearing and significant improvements in life expectancy are causing it to age faster. The result will be growing demand for health care, retirement systems, and old-age support particularly if the traditional family support system continues to erode. The challenge to countries with large elderly populations and relatively under-developed economies will be especially great. Throughout Asia, population aging could slow economic growth. If governments are to meet the challenges posed by aging populations, they must start soon to adopt policies that encourage saving and investment, develop effective social and economic institutions, and find new ways to tap the productive potential of older people.