Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Takes Lead on Aging and Innovation

Day-long Policy Dialogue to Focus on Fiscal Challenges of and Innovative Solutions for Population Aging: Population Aging to Benefit fromAPEC Trade and Investment Approaches

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mar. 8) – Today high level officials from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Member Economies will meet with private-sector experts in the areas of heath and technology, global aging, and U.S. government officials to develop strategies for population aging. This policy dialogue will aim to address the relationship between healthy aging and the economic challenges that accompany longevity. The challenges of population aging across all APEC Member Economies will benefit from collaboration in the healthcare and technology sectors characterized by public-private partnership agreements, regulatory harmonization based on international standards, and ongoing reductions in trade and investment barriers.

“The profound demographic shift brought on by longevity, combined with declining fertility rates, is occurring in every corner of the world and will have an extraordinary impact on the global economy,” said John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and Life Course at the World Health Organization. “It is an extremely positive step that APEC Member Economies and critical stakeholders from the private sector have come together to discuss proactive, comprehensive strategies – including public policy reforms and innovative business solutions – to address the challenges of aging populations.”

While aging is occurring at different rates around the world, this demographic shift already is having a significant impact on APEC Member Economies from China to Canada, Australia to Singapore. Among APEC Member Economies, Japan has the oldest population in the world, with 23 percent of its population 65 and older. By 2050, nearly two in every five Japanese will be over 65. In South Korea, more than a third of the population will be over 65 by 2050.

By 2020, the traditionally retired – over 65 segment – will grow by over 60 percent in Japan, 111 percent in Mexico, 80 percent in China, all with disproportionate declines in the 25–55 segment. Chinese Taipei is the fastest aging society moving rapidly to an elderly society in 2026 when its “old-old” will make up a stunning 20 percent of its total population.

The United States, by comparison, is relatively young, with just 13 percent of Americans 65 and older. But the next four decades will see a dramatic increase as this demographic group reaches 22 percent of the U.S. population. And there is no doubt the current baby-boom bulge – all 77 million turning 65 over the next two decades – is already having huge impact on all aspects of economic, social and political life.

This extreme shift everywhere is providing new challenges and responsibilities for governments and businesses alike. Today’s policy dialogue focuses on the impact of aging as well as potential policy and marketplace solutions that support and promote active and healthy aging. Among the topics addressed will be:

  • The fiscal challenges brought on by the growth of aging populations
  • Innovative approaches to health and wellness
  • New models for work and retirement to support financial independence

“While the rise in aging populations challenges the way we think about health, work and fiscal sustainability, it also provides a great opportunity for innovations that ensure living longer also means living better,” said Michael W. Hodin, Executive Director of the Global Coalition on Aging, an organizer of the policy dialogue. “Aging in the 21st century no longer has to be synonymous with dependency and disability. Active and healthy aging is essential not only for fiscal sustainability, but for continued independence and economic value contribution for all of us as we age.”

Speakers include:

  • Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman, Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, Finance Committee and Member, Special Committee on Aging, United States Senate
  • Dr. John Beard, Director, Department of Ageing and Life Course, World Health Organization
  • Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Eric Dishman, Intel Fellow, Intel Architecture Group and Director, Health Innovation, Intel Corporation

The policy dialogue is part of the APEC Health Working Group program, which is taking place during APEC’s Senior Officials Meeting, the first in a series of meetings hosted by the United States. APEC meetings will take place throughout 2011 in Washington, D.C., Big Sky, Montana, San Francisco, and Honolulu.

The 21 APEC Member Economies are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

Latest Developments

We keep our members and partners in touch with the most recent updates and opinions in the worldwide dialogue on population longevity and related issues.

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