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Demographics in emerging countries: necessary but not sufficient for success

First published:Risk Dialogue Magazine Shanghai, 06/01/2012

It is often said that demographics are destiny, that is, that population characteristics shape societies and economies in pre-determined ways. In most of the world, rapid societal ageing is underway as a result of the unique combination of weak or falling fertility on the one hand and rapidly rising longevity on the other.

The resulting rise in age structure, in which the productive working age population (WAP) will stagnate or decline, is expected to slow economic growth, and exacerbate the financial squeeze on both governments and individuals as the dependency ratio of older citizens on the WAP rises sharply.

On current projections, several emerging and developing countries (EDCs), including China, Brazil and Mexico will be as old or older than the US before mid-century, and some developed Asian economies, including South Korea and Singapore will be as old or older than many West European countries. South Asia, Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East are the slowest ageing regions, and are not expected to confront rapid ageing until the second half of the century……more