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Asia Minute: Singapore’s Rapidly Aging Society Carries Economic Costs

Nicolas Lannuzel / Flickr
Nicolas Lannuzel / Flickr

Census figures out last week show that Hawai‘i’s kupuna population continues to grow. In fact, the number of people aged 65 and above is growing about 4 times faster than the state’s overall population. The aging of society is a policy concern for Asian leaders from Japan to South Korea. And the topic is now finding its way into government speeches in Singapore. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Singapore’s Prime Minister told a university audience this week that his country’s population is aging faster than nearly any other country in the world.

Lee Hsien Loong warns this could have dire economic consequences, as the number of tax-paying residents continues to decline…while the population of senior citizens using social benefits goes in the other direction.

The number of Singaporeans aged 65 and up has doubled since the year 2000. 

Government projections expect that number to increase by a factor of four over the next 15 years.

Last year, Moody’s Investor Service warned that Singapore is among the countries facing what it calls a “demographic tax” that will be a drag on economic growth.

Japan is already in a category Moody’s calls the “super-aged societies”—where more than 20-percent of the population is 65 or older.

Italy and Germany are the other members of that group right now…by the year 20-30, Moody’s projects 34 countries will be in that category.

If all of this makes you wonder about Hawai‘i, census figures out last week have the latest update.

As of last year, a little more than 16-percent of Hawai‘i’s total population is 65 or older.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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