Ageing populations will drag on growth in Asia: IMF chief

September 7, 2017
Asia's population is ageing faster than anywhere else in the world

The chief of the International Monetary Fund warned Thursday that ageing populations in key Asian economies will drag on their growth, urging policymakers to step up their response to shifting demographics.

Studies show that Asia's population is ageing faster than anywhere else in the world, with Japan forecast to become the first "ultra-aged" country, meaning 28 percent of the population is 65 or over, while a fifth of the people in South Korea are expected to be 65 by 2030.

Rapidly ageing countries including China, Japan, Korea and Thailand "will have smaller workforces in the future and potentially lower productivity growth", IMF managing director Christine Lagarde told a conference in Seoul.

"We estimate that these countries could face lower annual GDP growth... by up to a percentage point," the IMF chief said.

China and Japan are the world's second- and third-largest economies respectively, and slower growth in them risks having significant knock-on effects around the world.

Lagarde urged governments to "boost the proportion of women in the workforce" by better accommodating working mothers with more childcare benefits and incentives for part-time work.

In emerging countries such as India—where populations are still growing—better education for girls and wider access to finance for women should be prioritised, she said.

According to some estimates, she added, closing the gender gap in the employment market could raise Japanese GDP by 9 percent, South Korea's by 10 percent, and India's by 27 percent.

At Thursday's conference, Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-Yeol also called for steps to tackle low birth rates and create more jobs for women and older people.

"A failure in responding to population ageing will make the escape from possible structural low growth difficult," Lee said.

An IMF report issued earlier this year projected falling to zero in Asia by 2050 and the share of working-age people—now at its peak—declining over the coming decades.

Urging policymakers to act early to respond to the ageing , the report warned: "Parts of Asia risk becoming old before becoming rich."

Explore further: Asia's ageing population to cost $20 trillion: study

Related Stories

UN says world population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050

June 22, 2017

India's population is expected to surpass China's in about seven years and Nigeria is projected to overtake the United States and become the third most populous country in the world shortly before 2050, a U.N. report said ...

World Bank says Asia aging faster than anywhere else

December 9, 2015

Asian countries are aging faster than has been seen anywhere else in the world, and they need to urgently reform pension systems and encourage more women to enter the labor force, the World Bank said in a report Wednesday.

Old age futures a concern in many countries

January 30, 2014

A new study finds that people in nations where the population is aging less swiftly, such as the U.S, are less likely to be worried about their old-age futures than those in parts of Europe and East Asia that are grappling ...

Recommended for you

Waiting periods reduce deaths from guns, study suggests

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—A trio of researchers with Harvard Business School has found evidence that they claim shows gun deaths decline when states enact waiting period laws. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Roman theater uncovered at base of Jerusalem's Western Wall

October 16, 2017

Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem's Old City, a unique structure around 1,800 years old that abuts the Western Wall and may have been built during Roman ...

Human speech, jazz and whale song

October 13, 2017

Jazz musicians riffing with each other, humans talking to each other and pods of killer whales all have interactive conversations that are remarkably similar to each other, new research reveals.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shakescene21
5 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2017
This IMF study largely ignores the robotic and AI revolution that will make most human workers unnecessary.
Countries like Japan will grow richer by relying on robotic workers, which will become dramatically cheaper and more competent. Countries like Indonesia will have plenty of young workers who will become increasingly less competitive and poorer and more dissatisfied.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.