Many Asian countries (such as China, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines) will experience a significant aging of their populations during the next several decades. This paper explores how these aging Asian countries are addressing and anticipating the challenges of an aging society. It suggests that Asia's preparedness for an aging population is decidedly mixed. While growth policies have been successful, much work is still needed in many countries to establish an adequate and farsighted policy framework in the areas of pensions, health insurance, and labor market policies.
The paper assesses the government expenditure effects from changing demographics in the Asian “Tiger” economies through 2050. With some exceptions, their limited social insurance commitments initially suggest that aging populations may not adversely affect fiscal balances. Yet for all the Tigers, changing illness patterns and medical modernization may combine with demographics to intensify budgetary pressures. The paper notes the implications of the Tigers’ reliance on private sector pension and medical insurance systems; the need for an active public role; and the complications for fiscal analysis when private sector instruments are used, in a mandatory way, as public policy instruments.