Asia is Growing Old

A fall in both fertility and mortality rates over the last 60 years is aging Asian populations. The demographic shift is tilting populations towards the older years, which will soon mean proportionately more senior citizens seeking healthcare and fewer young people entering the workforce.

In a study of 13 Asian nations, all but Japan had a high fertility rate of five to eight births per woman in the early 1950s. In the last decade, however, only two of the same countries, the Philippines and Pakistan, had a fertility rate above three, and both are on a downward trend. Added to this, not a single one of the 13 countries had a life expectancy exceeding 65 years in the 1950s; now all of them do.

The predicted effect on the labor force is worst for China; the number of people entering the workforce today is nearly twice the number expected 35 years from now. In 2050, the number of citizens aged 70-74 in China is predicted to be larger than any other age group, and the cohorts will taper in size all the way down through the working-age years.

India and Indonesia, on the other hand, are the most demographically well-situated. Roughly the same number of people are entering the labor force this year as is predicted for 2050, which will give these countries a labor supply advantage in the coming decades.

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