EDITO: Making the elderly Taiwan’s asset

Taiwan’s aging population and declining birth rate have become serious concerns for the nation. The National Development Council predicted that by 2025 Taiwan would be a super-aged society, in which 20% of the population is aged 65 or over, and that the country’s “demographic dividend” would end by 2028. , and the working-age population – aged 15 to 64 – would for the first time represent less than two-thirds of the population.

An increase in the proportion of older people would strain the health care system, while a decline in the proportion of working-age people would jeopardize Taiwan’s productivity and economic development.

The demographic structure of the country is changing at a remarkable speed. Council data shows that it took only 25 years for Taiwan to transform from an “aging society” in 1993, with 7% of the population aged 65 or over, to an “aged society” in 2018 , when more than 14% were 65 or older. older. Becoming a “super-aged” society should only take seven years.

By comparison, the council’s data shows that it took Germany 75 years to transition from an aging to a super-aged society, while it took France 154 years. Canada would undergo the development within 79 years, the United States would take 92 years, the United Kingdom 97 years and Norway 142 years, the council estimated.

Even in Japan, which has the highest proportion of people aged 65 or over in the world, it took 24 years to go from an aging society to an elderly society, and another 11 years to become a super-aged society, the council said.

With development being so rapid in Taiwan, the government has little time to adapt, and its planning and policy implementation to address the problem appears inadequate. Many candidates in the November 26 local elections not only called on the government to deal with the issue more urgently, but also announced their own plans.

However, most of the candidates’ plans focus on increasing pensions or allocating a bigger budget for long-term care and other social assistance programs. Little attention is given to how Taiwan can create opportunities for seniors or develop their potential. The mainstream thinking among Taiwanese is that the elderly are a liability rather than an asset to society, and the political plans of the candidates mainly focus on caring for the elderly, instead of enabling them to contribute to society and the economy.

It is unclear to what extent a one-off allowance would help improve the well-being of older people, but it is certain that such payments would strain local government budgets and restrict the scope for other policies related to the elderly. participation of older people in the economy, the labor market and society.

With their experience, knowledge and skills, older people can play an important role in economic development. Keeping more people aged 65 or older in the labor force could improve overall labor productivity. Older people can also make vital contributions to society through volunteerism – a potential that could be unlocked through support programs from public agencies and community institutions.

Facilitating the participation of older people in lifelong learning is essential to help them adopt new technologies and improve their social adaptability. This would not only delay the pace of population aging and improve quality of life, but also enable Taiwan to better utilize medical resources and benefit from the positive contributions of the elderly.

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