Due to social change, an ageing society has spread out widely around the world, and this leads to lots of social concerns like lower fertility and shortages of high skilled workers. Actually, when some developing Asian countries had just started to suffer from ageing society, in some advanced industrialized countries, especially in Western Europe there had been several political attempts to find a way out of ageing population, and consequently they seemed to succeed to obtain positive effects in some particular area of their policies. In my view, the Asian countries could alleviate these situations by finding appropriate policies as some developed nations found alternative policies which are efficiently able to deal with ageing matters. This essay will discuss first what far worse problems, which are in relation to the ageing population, governments in developing Asian countries will face through some cases of ageing concerns in developed nations and then will focus on finding the way to politically mitigate concerns which are associated with the aging issue and lastly will suggest some implications which must be taken into consideration in order that alternative policies may succeed.
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Newly industrializing countries around the world are in a change of a population structure and this trend seems to be no exception to a few developing Asian countries, where are in process of being an ageing society. According to Mujahid (2008), who works in UNFPA Country Technical Services Team for East and South-East Asia in Bangkok, East Asia countries like South-Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have been now not only projected to enter into an aging society, but also its pace of reaching to ageing is processing far more rapider than elsewhere. And also, Mujahid warned that the decline in economic growth of these countries would happen after a few decades owing to the rapid increase rate of elderly. But the problem is that these countries generally have not much experience about ageing society, so it might be difficult for them to manage ageing concerns. Therefore, it is more likely to be necessary to look through precedents for other developed nations have accumulated plenty of considerable experience and knowledge with a rapid growth of ageing population. Moreover, knowing reasons why the developed countries had to undergo the ageing concerns and what their precaution to prevent these problems would be a first step for Asian countries to discover a successful policy which could reduce an ageing phenomenon.
Governments in many advanced nations have experienced these problems caused by ageing population. Particularly, an increase of old age dependency ratio which is generated by the lower fertility rate and the death rate is the main distinct concern of ageing society, and shortages of experts and labors in certain sectors of the economy is also regarded as another issue. But the problem is that these factors could require more social services and health care for the elderly, including more day hospitals and more leisure facilities because of the higher demands of the old generation. (ed. Brown 2009) In fact, these factors could not only damage the economic growth but also have effect on the young generation. This is why many countries desperately want to find alternative policies which are expected to exert positive effect on ageing society today. The research which was made by Billari and his colleagues Kohler and Ortega in 2006 show the reason why low fertility happened in Western European countries through analysis of its demographical patterns and socioeconomic changes. The main argument in the study is that low fertility appears by a few separate demographical factors such as economic and social changes, social interaction processes, and modest socioeconomic changes. These shifts of society might be a catalyst for the European society became an affluent and a high-tech society, but this progress also led to remarkable changes of both of the size of population and its structure with increasing in the ratio of the advancement of women that resulted in the postponement of fertility.
Immigration policy is considered as a method to mitigate the ageing population and its related problems. And this policy might be one of the most pervasive policies which are now extended widely around the world. There are many reasons why the immigration policy is welcomed by many welfare states. It is not because of helping to solve the lack of the working population but also to have positive effect on improvement in labour market. For example, there is a new remarkable immigration policy which has come into effect in Western European countries. It is called â€˜blue cardâ€™ that was made by EU(The European Union) in order to solve skill shortages created by an ageing population.(Muysken,2008) In fact, the special European work permit was evaluated as one of successful immigration policies, accepting as many oversea highly skilled migrants and trainees as the European states could get through the problem occurred by the lack of the working population. It certainly seems that some East Asian countries that suffer from aging society might need to adopt this policy. However, it will not be possible if there is not strong relationship and support between neighbor countries. And also there are something important factors in order to make a positive impact of the policy on the ageing society.
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There are three general conditions that must be satisfied in order to obtain a positive effect of immigration on the economy and the population structure. First of all, immigrants should be employed to activate economic market. However, the high rate of immigration should be regulated according to each component of the population structure. Otherwise this will enormously increase the elderly population (The Federation for American Immigration Reform, 2000) as international migrants are remarkably expected to participate in a high dependency ratio in a short period of time. Second, the number of low-skilled immigrants should not be higher than the number of native workers. Finally, immigration policy should not be regarded as the single cure to decrease in the birth rates and elderly dependency ratio (Vodopivec 2008) because only dependency on the number of immigrants and on their employable by sustaining the skill structure could not be successful and it might negatively impact. Therefore immigration policies need to go step by step with positive labour market policies and education policies to get the low-skilled unemployed back to their workplace and to accelerate the economic growth. However, it should be noted that immigration policy is definitely one of essential policies which could lessen the population ageing, but it is not likely to be enough to deal with ageing problems.
Increasing in the birth rate will be another political way to reduce ageing problems. Although the policy requires taking a long period of time, it is considered as the most efficient policy because it is not only supposed to positively change population structure but also to potentially diminish an increased pension burden caused by an increase in the ratio of the elderly. In regards to the early fertility policy in Western Europe, when low fertility were addressed as one of social issues, European countries were not interested in underlining low fertility levels and even overlooked by many demographers and policy makers because polices like family support are regarded as expensive and mostly inefficient. In fact, their misconception that low fertility would be a temporary circumstance was directly influenced on the population structure and prospective economy, and then the Western nations realized that keeping fertility levels require long-term treatment and those policies should not be focused on the present fertility level. As a result, the countries could avoid from a dangerous situation as experienced a steady increase in the birth rate after a few decades. However, it should be noticed that there was remarkable financial loss due to a late process of population policy. (Zaidi, 2008) Therefore, if the nations like East Asian countries that have already been projected to join in the ageing society, it will be better to do a political action on ageing as soon as possible in order to prevent a huge economy loss caused by low birth rate.
Fertility policies are certainly necessary to be taken into account in order to impact low fertility. In other words, the government must reflect positive population policies like financial incentives or housing subsidies for pregnant women. Advancement of women within the workforce and the lack of the awareness of postponement are the key factors which causes the fertility problem. (Mo Wong, 2009) Therefore, it is strongly necessary for the government to provide certain policies and campaigns which make women think positively about the fertility plan in order to prevent the postponement of women. To begin with, the government should provide financial incentives for pregnant women like periodic cash payments or baby bonus per the time of birth of a baby. It will be the practical way of supporting them. Second, flexible working hours and short-term leave for family-related purposes have to be guaranteed. And thirdly, the policy should be considered that both genders must have the same opportunities to get employed, and there should be no gender specific workplace and no discrimination. Lastly, the policy like support of workers who take responsibilities for their family is important to increase in the birth rate. However it is assumed that supplying public subsides for all pregnant women is not easier said than done if the nation is not wealthy enough. Particularly, in some countries, these fertility policies will be more challengeable than any other countries because the lack of the public welfare fund.
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There is a huge amount of the public welfare gap between the wealthy nations and Asian countries except in Japan. In 1993, the percentage of public spend on the elderly and pregnant women was only 2 percent in the Philippines and 8 percent in South Korea, compared with 22 percent in the United States and more than 40 percent in most European countries. (East-West Center 2002) It means that the population policies in Asia countries are not properly allocated for the public sector and it is much limited than other wealthier countries. Actually, many Asian countries are not currently able to cover the large number of elderly population. And even more serious thing is the lack of policies and regulations which could efficiently deal with a pension and healthcare for the elderly and low fertility rate. Therefore, it is significant for many Asian countries to establish many different types of support policies for the elderly and the family community, and the pension policy should be considered even though the benefic of pension is restricted to certain groupsâ€™ population. Otherwise the problem of an ageing population will make the situation far more badly.
In conclusion, it is considered that an ageing population is a global phenomenon and ageing population are remained a much complicated problem than any other social problems because it has effect on economy, culture and society. So it is strongly necessary for many states that suffer from the ageing population to co-operate together in order to discover the ideal solution to ease ageing society. In regards to East-Asian countries, the nations need to find ways how attract many immigrants and to make a strong relationship between near countries as Western European countries made a strong official immigration agreement. And also, East-Asian governments need to deliberate a public policy for sustaining high fertility rate should be regarded as an investment for the future and should take a responsibility of low fertility in order to mitigate ageing problems. And this is strongly necessary for the government to think carefully whether other efficient policy could be adapted or not, through some successful cases of other countries that have effectively relieved the ageing concerns. It is believed that if the newly developed Asian nations adapt an appropriate policy which is expected to exert positive effect on ageing society, the nations will be anticipated to escape from ageing society because of some points that the ratio of aging population in Asian countries are less than the rate in the Western countries and Asian public welfare policies are less challengeable or unsustainable than the policies in the West.