Updated February 24, 2009 11:01 PM
MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Developing Asian nations are not doing enough to provide for their rapidly aging populations and need to take quick steps to prevent an aging crisis, a study released by the Asian Development Bank today said.
By 2050, Asians aged 65 or older are projected to comprise 17.5 percent of the region’s population – or more than 920 million, while the median age will rise to over 40, the report said.
While richer countries like Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore have older populations, the study said the region’s developing countries are tracking the same demographic path at a much faster rate.
More than half of Asia’s elderly will live outside the most affluent economies, and poorer countries including Laos, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia will suffer more because of low incomes, lack of institutional care for the elderly, and substandard health care.
“Unless we start making difficult policy choices soon, there is very little chance that Asia will age gracefully,” the study said.
The report – which cited declining fertility and mortality rates as a reason for the boom – warned that there will likely be a contraction in the labor supply and consumption, declines in savings and investment rates, and slower economic growth.
The report urged developing countries to increase per capita income, strengthen or establish pension systems, attract more capital for investments and invest in education.
It also encouraged cross-border flows of labor and capital within the region.
Japan is and will remain the region’s oldest country, where nearly two out of every five people will be 65 or older by 2050, the study said.