As Asia's Population Ages, Worries Grow about the Future


Andrew Mason, Sang-Hyop Lee, and Gerard Russo

AsiaPacific Issues, No. 58


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: January 2002
Binding: paper
Pages: 8
Free Download: PDF


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.