Resurgence in Emerging-Market Economic Growth to Be Found in Aging Population

New White Paper from the Global Coalition on Aging Challenges Policymakers to Leverage Aging Populations as Economic Growth Drivers

NEW YORK (April 17, 2014) – The key to sustaining and driving economic growth in emerging markets is through aging populations, according to a new white paper released by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA).  The paper, titled “Revitalizing Sustainable Growth in Emerging Markets: Insights on Leveraging an Aging Population,” runs contrary to prevailing views that the rising 60-and-over population is a barrier to growth. In fact, it actually urges global policy makers to develop policies and programs to maximize the potential of healthy and engaged older populations as active and productive resources that will revitalize and ensure sustainable growth.

At last week’s International Monetary Fund annual spring meetings in Washington, DC, global leaders forecasted that the global economy will gain strength this year, but not at the rate previously predicted.  They cited this slowed global economic resurgence to sluggish growth in emerging markets, which for the past half-century has been outpacing developed economies.

“While low inflation, political turmoil and other factors are creating uncertainty in emerging markets, global leaders have yet to target the certainty of their growing over-60 populations,” said Michael W. Hodin, executive director of GCOA. “Global leaders, including those at the IMF, are missing this opportunity.  They must rethink and reshape policies to meet current and future realities in which healthy, active, and productive aging populations can be an engine for growth.”

According to GCOA, national economies should look no further than their population structures in order to maintain global economic stability. It is a structure in which the over-60 population is growing faster than the traditional working-age population.  This leads to a new social, economic and political construct in which the value of aging populations is still underestimated and under-investigated.

Standard & Poor’s identified this massive global shift in its 2010 Global Aging Report, citing, “No other force is likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances, and national policies as the irreversible rate at which the world’s population is growing older.”

Globally, longevity is on the rise and birthrates are on the decline, leading to a rapidly rising aging population. This transformation is occurring most rapidly in emerging markets, which as they are aging are also most dramatically modernizing with advancements in medicine, nutrition and sanitation.

“Conventional development theories were created before innovations in health and modernization made it possible to live into our seventies, eighties and nineties,” said Hodin. “We live in a new construct in which emerging markets must invest in this steadily growing pool of human resources and structure economic policies in order to reclaim accelerated rates of growth and lead the global economy out of its recessionary conditions.”

In the paper, GCOA offers insights and examples for how to utilize aging populations to drive economic growth. The insights are focused in four areas:

  • Investment in wellness and prevention to allow all citizens to stay active and productive economic contributors throughout the life course;
  • Promotion of age-friendly businesses and entrepreneurship to maximize talent and create jobs;
  • Movement of caregiving from institutions into the home and community through innovations in personal care and technology; and
  • Development of age-friendly environments to ensure social and economic participation of older adults.

The insights were gathered from economic analysis and a series of policy dialogues hosted by GCOA, which included experts from across both public and private sectors, with economic, demographic, business, and policy backgrounds. GCOA’s policy dialogues took place in locations including Beijing, China; Istanbul, Turkey; and Bangkok, Thailand.

 

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