EWC-KOSTAT Conference on the Demographic Dividend and Population Aging in Asia and the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawai`i, October 29-30, 2015
Changes in age structure are an inevitable consequence of the demographic transition that is occurring all over the world. Many countries in Asia and the Pacific in particular, are experiencing demographic transition at an unprecedented speed. The first demographic dividend occurred in many Asian countries because of the effect of fertility decline on the number of dependent children. Rapid fertility decline increased the proportion of workers in the population, which accelerates growth in per capita income. Countries in East Asia were particularly successful in realizing large demographic dividends, in part, because their fertility decline was so rapid. However, the connection between the demographic dividend and economic growth is not automatic. The magnitude of the benefit will depend, for example, on the ability of the economy to absorb and productively employ the large influx of young workers due to previously high fertility.
East Asian countries and some Southeast Asian countries are far along in their demographic transition, and beginning to experience rapid population aging. Responses to population ageing can also lead to very different economic outcomes. There are concerns about slow economic growth due to large dependent old-age population or low saving rates. Fiscal problems are another concern because tax revenues may not keep paces with entitlement programs such as public pensions and publicly-funded health care. Limited participation of the older people in the labor market makes them particularly vulnerable to poverty, lacking in access to health care, and exposed to other risks. Adverse consequences of population aging will be offset, however, if workers increase saving to cover longer life expectancy, or if the quantity-quality tradeoff lead to more investment in human capital and higher productivity. These responses to population change, and others, may lead to the second demographic dividend. What will happen in Asia and elsewhere, however, remains an open question.
The EWC-KOSTAT (East-West Center-Statistics Korea) conference is organized to bring together researchers to present new research on the economic effects of demographic transition and aging in Asia and the Pacific, particularly focusing on updated trends, causes, and policy responses of demographic changes in Asia and the Pacific.