Posts Tagged ‘ageing’
The Economist has come up with a special on ageing populations. The IMF noted that the fiscal cost of the recent crisis is only 10% on average for ageing-related costs for developed nations. 10%! In previous posts, we’ve talked about the graying of the great powers (a summary posted below).
As Singapore sinks into the low fertility trap, our way out is by topping up via immigration. The other option of encouraging women to have more babies doesn’t seem to work in a Confucian culture where the woman does most of the housework, takes care of old parents and is also expected to have babies and a career to help pay for those babies. Japan couldn’t do it, neither could S Korea. China by central govt edict has accelerated this process. Only in the Nordic countries plus France has the low fertility trap been averted in part due to very generous cash transfers, flexible labor markets for working mothers to enter plus a state system of childcare support. Singapore cannot have its cake and eat it too. From observation, the thinking is that immigration is easier to control than cultural adaptation plus a shift in our social compact to a more Nordic system. But immigration is already throwing up a lot of integration (lack of integration) issues, and we’ve reached the self-imposed one-third foreign component of our population rule. There isn’t that much choice but to look at shifting the social compact. Thankfully Singapore’s built up some fat (reserves) that can help pay for this, not like China etc
Come end July, the Youth study should be completed. We have some senior civil servants saying it is important to meet our youth’s aspirations and match them with our industrial infrastructure. Well, I think it is well meaning but generally it’s easier to just have a diverse economy (depth and breadth) that youth can find a way to start, and to grow their wings in, and to come in and out on local/overseas stints. But that’s for another post end July.
Is demography destiny? Another non linearity coming up! Ageing is old, but depopulation is new. Major nations will age into irrelevance starting in the 2020s. The USA, alone among the major nations, will not. Through sheer numbers alone, the USA will still be a force to be reckoned with as Germany, Italy, France, Russia and maybe China gray. Maybe China, as we’ve mentioned in the ‘rise of the rest’, that China may grow old before it grows rich. In the 2020s, China is supposed to outstrip the USA’s GDP, while still remaining a middle income country, and also that’s when it’s working population goes into decline.
Have we worked the economics of depopulation into our futures? Not just Singapore which is one of the fastest depopulating nations around, except we top it up through immigration. Will Chimerica make it through China’s great depopulation? Will they become another Japan (in the good sense of the word) in time? Can SGP’s strategic relevance to an ageing China, India, S Korea be bolstered beyond the usual selling of old-age management solutions? What surprises does the USA have in store for us? And of course, the most ‘young’ populations around us are Indonesia, Philippines in the 2020s etc? How do we get their best of their young to be working in Singapore then? Can we orient our economy, or at least diversify, to suit their economies?
Shrinking Nippon: Strategies For A Future Japan
Japan is facing a lot of problems when it comes to town planning: a decreasing population that will soon be overaged, shrinking towns in the countryside, and a fading government budget that is tinted by last year’s pension scandal. We already introduced you to the Shrinking Cities exhibition that toured Tokyo and dealt with vanishing populations. One of the people working on that was Hidetoshi Ohno, professor at the University of Tokyo. With his Fiber City project from 2005 he had developed strategies for a future Japan. Now, he gives an update with his Shrinking Nippon concept compilation, published by Kajima Institute Publishing. Read on more by Pingmag here.
Japan is already facing a lot of problems related to a decreasing population, not least which is town planning. How do you design an urban space for vanishing populations?
Future Sense – Future Challenges for CEOs
This issue of Future Sense, we highlight an interesting, albeit long, report on “Why will Health and Tourism be the world’s largest industry by 2022″ produced by Scotland’s National Tourism agency.
Over the past two decades, society has witnessed a steady growth in disposable income, and staying fit and healthy has been consumers’ top priority, resulting in a plethora of health-related consumer products, ranging from anti-ageing creams, to day spas and medical procedures. An ageing population has resulted in an increased demand for healthier foods and a growing interest in Eastern medicines and health-related activities such as yoga, meditation and herbal remedies. Consumers now will travel abroad to combine health and beauty surgical procedures with a holiday. Demand for improved health will soar as the consumers’ perception of health changes and they seek a combination of mind, body and spirit, whether travelling to Japanese ‘no food’ hotels for the weekend, a spa treatment in Thailand or hill walking in Scotland – all in the hope of finding the fountain of youth.
In the report, the authors make their case by analyzing the trends and drivers which shape health and beauty in society. They also use India as a case study to illustrate how the country is packaging its tourism products using this phenomenon. Some key trends mentioned in the report that are shaping the phenomenon include:
Concern for staying fit
Consumers’ declining satisfaction with their own health
Increasingly sedentary lifestyles
Searching for alternative medicines
Beauty and Appearance
Some thoughts for consideration:
The rising healthcare cost in the Western world will lead to increased demand for medical tourism. Many destinations aim to tap into this opportunity of an aging population seeking the mountain of youth. Singapore has already started to develop our medical tourism sector to ride on the wave. How can we carve out a profitable niche amidst the competition from regional destinations like India, Dubai, Thailand and Malaysia ? How should our value proposition differ from our competitors’? In addition to developing facilities in Singapore, can we also invest in those destinations to tap on their natural advantages to capture their medical tourism traffic?