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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This is what I am talking about


As I said earlier, the government that is going to plan Malaysia’s future beyond 2020 is not about a popularity contest between two people. It is about what do we do about Malaysia’s aging population? Would we just dump them into old folks’ homes and let the Rotary Club or Lions Club worry about them? Or are we going to come out with a good policy to support them?
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Last week, I wrote an article called Are we having a popularity contest?’ Basically, my argument was that we need a good education system, a good healthcare system, and food (meaning a good agriculture policy so that Malaysia can feed its growing population without depending on imports: like it now does and has been from the very beginning).
Today, there is another issue I want to talk about: and that is about Malaysia’s aging population and what do we do with our old people. First, read the news report by AsiaOne (below) regarding Japan and the graphics below from the UK Parliament website.
In 50 years or so, Japan expects its population to decrease. That would be good if it was India or China. The problem with Japan, though, is that they expect less people to be born while old people will live longer. This means, in 50 years from now, almost half the population would be retired people.
This would also mean they would not be income-generating Japanese, they would need supporting (and with no younger/working people to support them they would be dependent on state support), and they would be a strain on the healthcare and welfare system.
This, to a certain degree, is already happening in the UK. Everywhere you go in the UK you will notice one very glaring thing: everyone appears so old. And I should know: I have been living here almost three years now.
In less than 50 years from now, according to the UK Parliament website, this is what we are going to see:
The UK is going to see what Japan is going to see: a growing aging population.
What has all this got to do with Malaysia? Well, in the 1980s, a mere 30 years ago, Malaysia was said to be amongst the youngest countries in the world (not in terms of nationhood but in terms of population). Around 70% of Malaysians were below voting age.
Today, according to Malaysia’s Department of Statistics, this is what it is:
Guess what it is going to be like by 2050 or 2060.
And this is what it is according to citizens/non-citizens and racial breakdown:
Can you see that two-thirds of Malaysians who will need to worry about the problem are going to be the Bumiputeras? By then, Malaysia’s ‘overseas population’ is going to increase from one million, now, to probably three million or so -- about 85% or 90% of them non-Bumiputeras. The non-Bumiputeras are not going to suffer as much as the Bumiputeras as they are more ‘mobile’ and know how to plan their future better than the Bumiputeras do.
Today, people are living longer than, say, around the time of Merdeka. Around the time of Merdeka, by the age of 55 you retired and you are not expected to live too long after that. Today, at 65 or 70 you are still active and probably healthy as well. Today, you may live to the age 75 or 80. And what is troubling is: long before that, say before the age of 65, your savings and EPF would have dried up.
How do we support our old people? They need food and a good healthcare system. In the UK, they can have that, although at great cost to the system (and the working population). But then even the lowest paid worker is taxed 20% of their salary at source and the VAT takes away another 20%. By the time all the taxes takes its toll, 70% of what you earn goes to the system to support the old people and ‘others’ (such as school leavers who are unemployed) who depend on the system.
As I said earlier, the government that is going to plan Malaysia’s future beyond 2020 is not about a popularity contest between two people. It is about what do we do about Malaysia’s aging population? Would we just dump them into old folks’ homes and let the Rotary Club or Lions Club worry about them? Or are we going to come out with a good policy to support them?
Many ask me whether I plan to return to Malaysia. Well, I am going to be 62 in September. What happens when I reach 65 in three years’ time? Will I be taken care of if I return to Malaysia? In England, at 65, I will be the problem of the UK government. In Malaysia, I will be my children’s problem.
No, my children have their own children to worry about. I can’t make them worry about my wife and me as well. My wife and I will have to be the government’s problem. And it will have to be the UK government because the Malaysian government will have no time to worry about me (they are engrossed in winning popularity contests).
To those Malaysians who plan to live, retire and die (hopefully after the age of 80) in Malaysia, you need to worry about this. I no longer need to worry about it. So let’s hear from those who are fishing for our votes: what are you going to do about Malaysians who will retire at 60 and will probably live for another 20 or 25 years before they go meet their Maker?
And note that by 2050 or 2060, we may be talking about 60% or 70% of Malaysia’s population (unless we want to 'balance' the ratio by ‘importing’ even more, younger Indonesians into Malaysia and give them Malaysian citizenship).
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Survey shows 'super-gray' Japan in 2060
(AsiaOne) - Japan will become a "super-gray" society in 2060, as people aged 65 or over will account for 39.9 per cent of the population that year, according to a survey conducted by a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry institution.
The nation's total fertility rate--the average number of children each woman will have in her lifetime--will be 1.35 in 2060, up 0.09 points from the previous survey released in 2006, the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research said Monday.
However, the nation's total population will continue to drop, from 128.06 million in 2010 to 86.74 million in 2060.
The nation's population 50 years on is estimated every five years in tandem with a national census. The estimate is used as basic data for various indexes such as public pension finances and economic growth.
This time, the institute made three types of estimates based on the census conducted in 2010: moderate, optimistic and pessimistic.
In its moderate estimate, the institute revised upward the long-term outlook for the total fertility rate after it recovered to 1.39 in 2010 from the record low of 1.26 in 2005.
The institute said the recovery of the total fertility rate in recent years can be attributed to women in their mid-30s deciding to have children after previously being reluctant due to worsening economic conditions.
The total fertility rate is expected to drop again in the years ahead, but eventually move upward and reach 1.35 in 2060, the institute said. However, the population will continue to shrink, as at least 2.07 children per woman are necessary to maintain the population.
In 2048, the population is expected to fall below 100 million, two years earlier than the previous estimate.
The average longevity of Japanese men is expected to increase to 84.19 years in 2060 from 79.64 in 2010, and women's lifespans will also rise, to 90.93 from 86.39. The number of people aged 65 or older will peak in 2042 with 38.78 million, and then drop to 34.64 million in 2060.
The number of juveniles aged under 15 was 16.84 million, or 13.1 per cent of the total population, in 2010. The figure will drop to 7.91 million, or 9.1 per cent, in 2060, according to the institute.
The working-age population--those aged from 15 to 64--will drop from 81.73 million, or 63.8 per cent of the total population, in 2010 to 44.18 million, or 50.9 per cent, in 2060.

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