Population aging, which is a result of declining fertility and mortality rates, has been increasing in Asia in recent decades. In fact, Asia includes four of the five most populous countries in the world, and in 2060 an estimated one out of every 10 people in the world will be an older Asian.
Released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau, this report examines the demographic, economic, and health transitions that have occurred in Asia with a focus on aging populations and provides comparisons across regions. Some key findings include:
The number of older Asians will nearly triple over the next four decades. The older population will increase much faster than the working-age population who contribute to old-age social security systems and/or provide care for people in this age group.
Labor force participation and old-age social security pension systems vary widely in Asia. As these societies develop, the primary source of earnings for older Asians, aside from their own earnings, is shifting from their children to other sources of support, such as old-age security systems.
Older Asians are living longer and healthier, but not all extra years are lived in full health. Increases in certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and dementia, may lead to rising disability levels.
Population aging presents both challenges and opportunities. Reducing risky health behaviors, increasing financial security through social pension systems, and improving health systems may help to ensure that added years are healthy years. Continuing to explore the diversity of Asian countries and the mix of approaches and models used to navigate these challenges and opportunities will provide helpful insight for other countries around the world.