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ISLAMABAD: Some economies in developing Asia are ageing rapidly, however, Pakistan will still have shares lower than 10 percent by 2050, says the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The bank in its latest report “Aging well in Asia; Asian Development Policy”, released on Thursday, noted that the number of people aged 60 and older in developing Asia and the Pacific is set to nearly double by 2050 to 1.2 billion—or about a quarter of the total population—significantly increasing the need for pension and welfare programmes as well as healthcare services.

At the same time, economies have an opportunity to reap a “silver dividend” in the form of additional productivity from older people, which could boost gross domestic product in the region by 0.9per cent on average.

Pakistan’s economic growth to decelerate to 0.6% in FY23: ADB

In 2022, older people’s share of the population exceeded 20per cent in 8 of 46 regional economies: Hong Kong, China; the Republic of Korea (ROK); Taipei, China; Georgia; Niue; Singapore; Thailand; and Armenia.

The speed of ageing, measured by the number of years required for the share of older people to double from 10per cent to 20per cent, has been rapid in Singapore at 17 years, Thailand 18 years, and the ROK 19 years. Of the 38 economies that have not yet reached the 20per cent threshold, 13 will do so by 2050.

Among them, the transition is expected to take 13 years in Maldives; 16 years in Brunei Darussalam; and 21 years in Azerbaijan, Bhutan, and Palau.

By 2050, 20 economies in developing Asia will have 20per cent shares, 22 economies will have shares above 10per cent, and 4 economies—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu—will still have shares lower than 10 per cent.

Differences between transition duration projections made in 2000 and actual transitions are 4 years for Hong Kong, China, with 36 years projected against 32 years actual; 3 years for the ROK and Thailand; and 2 years for the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The participation of this cohort is particularly low in South Asia, below 25 per cent in India, Nepal, and Pakistan and not much higher at 28.6per cent in Bangladesh.

In rapid assessments in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, 81 per cent of older people said their income was diminished by Covid-19, the report added.

Where pension coverage is high, employment drops abruptly for the near-old, or those close to the statutory retirement age.

Women in Pakistan similarly have an earlier statutory retirement age than men, but with less impact on retirement given women’s low labour force participation. Overall, employment rates for women still lag in many economies.

The share of older workers in agriculture increases with age. The share of aged 60 and older is particularly high in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Viet Nam, where it exceeds 50per cent.

In East Asia and the Pacific, the gender wage gap in 2015 was about a fifth, and in South Asia a third. Yet another factor is lower pension contributions as paid work must compete with caring for children, older parents, and often grandchildren. This gap may be wider in economies with an official retirement age for women lower than that for men, as in Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam.

While many economies in Asia and the Pacific have noncontributory social pensions, several do not. Those without social pensions are Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Lao PDR, the Marshall Islands, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

Many economies in Asia and the Pacific have introduced social pensions, but coverage and adequacy vary substantially. Coverage ranges from being central to the entire pension system, as in Georgia, to absent or negligible, as in Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Pakistan, Malaysia, and several Pacific island economies.

Digitization and fintech promise to alleviate the challenges of collecting contributions and delivering pensions in the informal sector, and thus drive inclusion. While these innovations help all age groups, they can be especially beneficial for older Asians. Biometric identification, for example, is now used for pension transactions in Armenia, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, India, and Pakistan, and is being phased in in the Philippines and Viet Nam.

In Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Viet Nam, the majority still agree with the norm, but the percentage strongly agreeing is somewhat lower.

“Asia and the Pacific’s rapid development is a success story, but it’s also fueling a huge demographic shift, and the pressure is rising,” said ADB Chief Economist Albert Park. “Governments need to prepare now if they’re going to be able to help hundreds of millions of people in the region age well. Policies should support lifetime investment in health, education, skills, and financial preparedness for retirement. Family and social ties are also important to foster healthy and productive populations of older people and maximize their contribution to society.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU May 03, 2024 10:37am
The only truth is doomsday for ageing as well as young ones, but sometimes people take matter in their own hands to survive n get rid of cruel leaders, will they be then called anti state n traitors?
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