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Asia's Rapidly Aging Population Is a Threat to Regional and Global Economy: IMF

Asia’s population is aging so fast that in just a few decades, the region might stop being the top contributor to the global workforce.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently released its annual outlook for Asia, and things are not looking good: by 2050, the continent’s population growth rate will fall to zero – that figure is already negative in Japan. What’s more alarming is that the optimal working-age population is currently at its peak, thus things will only get worse from now on.

This means that by 2050, the number of people aged 65 and older in the region will be almost 2.5 times its current population.

Infographics via Bloomberg.

"The speed of aging is especially remarkable compared to the historical experience in Europe and the United States," the IMF told Bloomberg. "Countries in Asia will have less time to adapt policies to a more aged society than many advanced economies had. As such, parts of Asia risk becoming old before becoming rich."

Vietnam is also expected to take a hit from an aging society, but the country’s situation is fortunately not as severe as its neighbors: Japan’s annual economic output could drop by 1% in the next 30 years, while a 0.5-0.75% decrease is predicted for China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand.

"Adapting to aging could be especially challenging for Asia, as populations living at relatively low per capita income levels in many parts of the region are rapidly becoming old," IMF added. The report suggests “reforms to labor market laws, pension programs and retirement systems” as a remedy for the aging workforce.

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