By Ko Lin
Taiwan has surpassed Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other developed countries to become the world’s fastest aging nation this decade, reports said Monday.
According to statistics provided by the National Development Council (NDC), the number of senior citizens aged 65 and above currently stands at 2.86 million of the total population in Taiwan.
The council predicts the country will achieve ‘aged society’ status by 2018, which requires 14 percent of the population to be aged 65 or older. By 2025, the figure is expected to exceed the 20 percent mark, turning Taiwan to become a ‘super-aged society,’ where one in five citizens will be over 65.
What is worrying in Taiwan’s case is the speed at which the transformation has taken place. An increase from 7 percent to 14 percent in the proportion of retirees took 85 years in Sweden and 73 years in the U.S., but in Taiwan it will take only 25 years. The cause is a post-war baby boom combined with a rapidly falling birth rate, it said.
The island’s working population aged between 15 and 64 will shrink 7.3 percent by 2025, above the 7.2 percent contraction expected for Japan.
According to the NDC, those already retired (or retiring in the next few years) may still have parents in their 80s and 90s to look after. And given the present difficulty the younger generation of workers have to support themselves as a result of stagnant wages, it is not hard to imagine what things will be like in the future.
To date, senior citizens with personal caregivers, many from overseas, have become increasingly prevalent. In a few years’ time, many countries from emerging countries will also stop exporting workers due to their improved economic status.
“It is not possible to rely on foreign caregivers indefinitely, making it imperative for the government to put a long-term plan in place,” it quoted in its report.