Question: It is expected that there will be a higher proportion of older people than young people in many countries in the future. Do you think it is a positive or negative development?
The insidious, possibly irreversible, trend of population aging—a phenomenon that is pervading the entire world, particularly the OECD nations—will add tremendous financial burden to the government to a point where it will threaten to strain, if not deplete, the limited governmental reserves. A closer examination suggests that the real picture may appear graver. Without any reliable source of income, the retired senior citizens survive largely on pension that is transferred to their bank accounts on a monthly basis. Worse yet, pensioners are prone to severe illnesses that could only be treated with exorbitant surgeries and costly drugs. In countries where the elderly enjoy a better social welfare and free medical care, the state expenditure on pension and medical fees might amount to a staggering proportion of a nation’s annual GDP.
Furthermore, the skewed demographic distribution against the young adults in the population implicates acute labor shortage in many industries, particularly labor-intensive ones. Physical senility disqualifies 60-year-olds from those laborious, physically demanding professions, which also serves the employers well since the young adults could be far more productive and thus help companies to reap more profits. Unfortunately, inadequacy in supply of competent laborers might force factories to scale down, if not shut down entirely, their production out of cost-effective considerations.
The rising dominance of the graying population promises a vast market of a diverse range of products that are specifically targeted at the elderly people. In China, the last decade witnessed an increase in the severity of population aging as well as a booming market for such products as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and more importantly, healthcare products. It has become a new, predominant tradition that the young adults will buy in bulk an array of healthcare products for the elderly people in their family in times of festivals. As this problem continues to be more severe for years to come, it is expected that the market will grow at an exponential rate.