Mletiko, 2 April 2013
Concluding Remarks: vibrant and healthy APEC older persons
Demographically, APEC in 2040 will be very different from APEC in 2010, when three of the world four largest countries, in terms of population size, are in APEC: China (first), the US (third), and Indonesia (fourth). India (non APEC) was the second. However, in 2020s India will surpass China and becomes the largest country in the world. In 2030s, Pakistan (also non APEC) will replace Indonesia in the fourth place. Indonesia will be the fifth.
Though at different stages, all population in APEC countries (except Papua New Guinea) have and will be ageing. By 2040, East Asian countries and Singapore will take over the “domination” of older persons in APEC from the Western countries (the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). The old-age dependency ratio in these Asian countries will be at least 40, meaning that the older persons will form at least 40 per cent of the working age population. Outside East Asia and Singapore, many other APEC countries will already have old-age dependency ratio as high as the US in 2010, more than 20.
Era of cheap, young, labour in APEC will have finished in 2040. All countries will suffer from shortage of (young) workers and they cannot find migrants from other APEC countries. They have to find sources of migrants from outside APEC. Similarly, foreign direct investment in APEC cannot rely on cheap labour. Moreover, with rising economic nationalism in APEC and the world, unhappiness toward foreign capital and migrants may be escalated as people are not prepared with a sudden change in the composition of population and owners of business.
As effort to boost fertility is not expected to be successful, especially when fertility has been very well below replacement level, other options should be developed. One is to develop robotics to fulfil the shortage of workers. Second is to promote “Active Ageing” programme so that people can stay healthy, active, and independent until their 80s. The success of the Active Ageing programme will reduce the need of bringing more migrants. Therefore, being old is not when someone is 60 years or 65 years old and over, but when someone is, for example, 80 years old and over.
The success of Active Ageing programme in APEC will transform APEC older persons from “burden, dependence” into vibrant and healthy persons. It will much reduce the cost of taking care of the older persons and at the same time the older persons themselves can still actively contribute to the economy and society.
The explosion of older persons in APEC should be appreciated and made as one of APEC’s competitive advantage. The older persons in APEC can become a lucrative market and strong production base for each APEC country and others outside APEC.
For a complete paper, please click Population Ageing in APEC Countries