Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Demographic changes in Asia and the Pacific region are occurring at unforeseen rates. An explosion in the working age population and a fall in birth rates - changes that are expected to take a century in Europe and North America - could occur here in just 30 years.
If countries do not start planning for the demographic change, they will miss out on opportunities to boost growth and investment in the future, said Bakhodir Burkhanov, United Nations Development Programme Deputy Country Director in Việt Nam, at the launch of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Regional Development Report yesterday.
The report, entitled “Shaping the future: How changing demographics can power human development”, found that Asia-Pacific countries now have more working-aged people and fewer dependents than at any other point in history, providing a springboard for growth.
About 68 per cent of the region’s population is at working age, and only 32 per cent are dependents.
“When countries have a greater share of people who can work, save and pay taxes, they have the potential to transform their economies and power investment in health care, education and other building blocks of future prosperity,” said Thangavel Palanivel, lead author of the report.
The report called for an immediate response and outlined actions for sustainable development.
As Việt Nam is at the end of the middle stage of transitioning to an ageing demographic, the country’s biggest challenge is to capitalise on its remaining demographic dividends and prepare for the demands of an ageing population, experts at the meeting said.
Richard Marshall, Policy Advisor for the UNDP, said Việt Nam should focus on improving productivity and creating quality work.
He suggested that the country mobilise savings, invest in productive sectors and ensure gender equity within labour market.
It is necessary for the Vietnamese Government to accelerate social protection reform, especially pensions, he said.
He advised the Government to focus not only on technology transfer, but also wider education, skills training and health care reforms.
Dr Nguyễn Quang, Programme Manager of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in Việt Nam, said despite the fact that urbanisation was considered low in Việt Nam compared with other countries in the region, much attention should be paid to the management of cities.
Once cities are well-managed, it would be a great source for the country’s development, bringing about high production values and productivity as well as more employment, he said.
Although the country is benefiting from the “golden age” population, it will last a short period of time. Therefore, Việt Nam should prepare for an ageing population. The country should invest more in healthcare and education, and create jobs for young people, he said.
Quang also emphasised the need to take advantage of senior citizens’ knowledge for research activities and consultancy related to policy making programmes. Senior citizens should be encouraged to associate their activities with recreation and the community, he said. — VNS