Sunday, July 12, 2009

Worries over greying Asia

According to an AFP article, Asia is facing an ageing crisis with weak and inadequate pension systems and family-based support dwindling, an ADB report revealed Saturday.

"A young continent reaping the demographic dividend of a large youthful workforce is giving way to a greying continent where the ratio of retirees to workers is on the rise," senior Asian Development Bank economist Park Donghyun said in a study released by the Manila-based lender.

Improved female education and better medical care is inducing Asians to have fewer children, allowing them to live longer and causing a "seismic" demographic shift, Park said.

The median age of China, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam "will exceed the world average by 2050" which spells trouble for their pension systems along with that of the Philippines, the study said.

The greying phenomenon is more pronounced in East and Southeast Asia than in South Asia, it added.

"In contrast to industrialised countries, most Asian countries do not yet have mature, well-functioning pension systems," Park said.

"As a result, they are ill-prepared to provide economic security for the large number of retirees who loom on the horizon."

In the past, experts have warned that unless action is taken now to meet the changing population trends, the South East Asian countries could face long-term social and political implications.

The problem is different from country to country and the policy makers of each country will need to work out the solution that suits them best considering the pace of the number of elderly that is increasing.

The older workers who face big challenges in a fast changing environment can remain employable only if they upgrade themselves constantly by embracing new skills and technology.

The value of the experience of the older workers in any country will diminish fast unless they can adept to the fast changing conditions of a society that can count on a globally mobile workforce to fill the gaps by relocating from one country to another.

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