Special on aging in Europe, the U.S., and Asia

Global Business

Elderly women walk in Prater park on a sunny spring day in Vienna, Austria on April 15,2015.AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR

In this special edition of Global Business America, we examine aging around the world and its impact on economies.

The issue was highlighted during a CCTV America panel at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings this week, where top government officials and policy makers discussed the impact of aging on nations. More than one third of the global population will be over 50 by 2050 and nations are already struggling to provide for adequate health and long-term care systems and pensions.

Percentage of population aged 60 years or over in 2013

Darker shades show higher percentage of older populations. Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

In Asia, countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand are aging faster than Europe and the United States. Asians also tend to work longer and require more family support than in Europe. In more developed economies, social welfare systems kick in for the elderly.

In China, more than 30 percent of the population will be over 60 years old. With an underdeveloped social welfare system and stretched finances at local governments, the one-child policy has put pressure on working-age Chinese, leaving them the sole providers for their parents and grandparents.

Meanwhile, in the United States, and increasingly in Europe, populations populations are aging without the benefit of the family support that exists elsewhere in the world and with the added obstacle of skyrocketing healthcare costs.


Nithin Umapathi and Haiyan Wang discuss aging in Asia

CCTV interviewed a panel of experts about how nations in Asia are coping with their aging population. They include Nithin Umapathi, a senior economist at the World Bank’s Social Protection and Labor Global Practice and Haiyan Wang, a professor at the business school INSEAD and managing partner of the China India Institute.

Nithin Umapathi and Haiyan Wang discuss aging in Asia

Nithin Umapathi and Haiyan Wang discuss aging in Asia

CCTV interviewed a panel of experts about how nations in Asia are coping with their aging population. They include Nithin Umapathi, a senior economist at the World Bank's Social Protection and Labor Global Practice and Haiyan Wang, a professor at the business school INSEAD and managing partner of the China India Institute.


Thailand becoming grayest nation in Southeast Asia

Thailand is facing a labor shortage as the population ages. The number of people of working age is shrinking due to a low birth rate and a move to spend more time in education which is likely to hamper Thailand’s productivity and long-term growth potential.

CCTV’s Martin Lowe reported this story.

Thailand becoming grayest nation in Southeast Asia

Thailand becoming grayest nation in Southeast Asia

Thailand is facing a labor shortage as the population ages. The number of people of working age is shrinking due to a low birth rate and a move to spend more time in education which is likely to hamper Thailand's productivity and long-term growth potential. CCTV's Martin Lowe reported this story.

Highlights:

  • Almost third of Thais will be older than 60 by 2050, compared to less than a sixth in the Philippines and a fifth in Malaysia.
  • Thailand’s government once encouraged large families but state policy changed in the 1970s, calling for less births.
  • Women are now more educated and working and marrying later and having fewer children, one reason for the shrinking labor force.
  • Government will have to spend more money on elder care, which means less money on economic development, says Yos Vajragupta, a senior researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute.
  • Thailand’s pool of workers is shrinking, just as it tries to revive growth after two years of falling exports
  • The government is offering tax-benefits to couples to raise a family, upping the retirement age and easing rules on foreign workers to tackle the labor shortage.
  • Thailand has the opposite challenge compared to countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, where ever-growing populations threaten to overwhelm state services and employment opportunities.

Elderly care costs in China take a toll family caregivers

In China, the country’s aging population is putting pressure on a shrinking work-force, and a generation of single children are now forced to care for their parents and grandparents. The government has put various plans into motion, among them is an investment push for more nursing homes.

CCTV’s Ning Hong reported this story.

Elderly care costs in China take a toll family caregivers

Elderly care costs in China take a toll family caregivers

In China, the country's aging population is putting pressure on a shrinking work-force, and a generation of single children are now forced to care for their parents and grandparents. The government has put various plans into motion, among them is an investment push for more nursing homes. CCTV's Ning Hong reported this story.

  • Decades of the One Child policy have placed a heavy burden on young Chinese, making them responsible for four to eight elderly relatives.
  • A nursing home in in Hebei province’s Shijiazhuang city is funded by the local government and has over 300 residents. Monthly fees range from 2,000-5,000 RMB ($323-$807)
  • Many retired workers don’t have enough pension to cover the cost of living in nursing homes, said Zhou Binyuan, director of the Shijiazhuang Senior Center.
  • China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has outlined plans to boost the elderly care sector, promising to provide 30 beds for every thousand elderly by the end of the year.
  • The government is also providing subsidies and tax cuts to encourage private nursing homes. In Shijiazhuang alone, there are over 100 nursing homes. Most of them are private.

Maurizio Bussolo and Haiyan Wang discuss aging in Europe

CCTV America continued the discussion on aging with Haiyan Wang and Maurizio Bussolo, the lead economist for Europe and Central Asia a the World Bank.

Maurizio Bussolo and Haiyan Wang discuss aging in Europe

Maurizio Bussolo and Haiyan Wang discuss aging in Europe

CCTV America continued the discussion on aging with Haiyan Wang and Maurizio Bussolo, the lead economist for Europe and Central Asia a the World Bank.


Germany looks to immigration to tackle shrinking workforce

The medieval town of Hoyerswerda is typical of many east German towns with a picturesque central square. The aging citizens of Hoyerswerda say they’re satisfied with things the way they are, but business in this town is shrinking as is it’s greying population. In two decades, the average age here has climbed to 52 years old from 35, while the number of people here has dwindled by more than half. Parts of town lie empty.

CCTV America’s Guy Henderson reported this story.

Germany looks to immigration to tackle shrinking workforce

Germany looks to immigration to tackle shrinking workforce

The medieval town of Hoyerswerda is typical of many east German towns with a picturesque central square. The aging citizens of Hoyerswerda say they're satisfied with things the way they are, but business in this town is shrinking as is it's greying population. In two decades, the average age here has climbed to 52 years old from 35, while the number of people here has dwindled by more than half. Parts of town lie empty. CCTV America's Guy Henderson reported this story.

Highlights:

  • It is necessary for the city to tear down homes, schools and streets, due to it’s declining population, says Dietmar Wolf, the head of planning and development at Hoyerswerda.
  • There are few examples of cities that are shrinking by design.
  • By some estimates, by 2060, there’ll be 20 million fewer Germans in Germany than there are today.
  • Germany’s federal government knows the country’s economic future depends on a sizable work force, so open immigration policies have transformed cities such as Berlin.

Long term care harder to afford in U.S.

More than two-thirds of Americans aged 65 and up will need some type of long-term care, such as a nursing home, live-in help, or assisted care facility. While most long-term care costs are covered by Medicaid, the U.S. government’s health plan for the poor, those who make too much to qualify can buy long-term healthcare insurance, but it’s getting harder than ever to find someone willing to underwrite an affordable policy.

CCTV America’s Karina Huber reported this story.

Long term care harder to afford in U.S.

Long term care harder to afford in U.S.

More than two-thirds of Americans aged 65 and up will need some type of long-term care, such as a nursing home, live-in help, or assisted care facility. While most long-term care costs are covered by Medicaid, the U.S. government's health plan for the poor, those who make too much to qualify can buy long-term healthcare insurance, but it's getting harder than ever to find someone willing to underwrite an affordable policy. CCTV America's Karina Huber reported this story.

  • The imminent long-term care crisis is called the “silver tsunami.” More than two-thirds of Americans say they are unsure how they’re going to cover their costs. Lower birth rates means there will be fewer children to take care of ailing parents, too.
  • Jack Lichtenstein, 92, bought long-term care insurance for his wife Rita when she was in her 70s. But when it came time for the insurance company to pay out when she needed the care, it wasn’t easy. She had dementia but the day they sought insurance she was quite lucid, and she was turned down.
  • Lichtenstein had to get several doctors to vouch for her condition before the insurance company would cover Rita’s care. It was an ordeal, but worth it as Rita’s home care costs are around 120,000 dollars a year. He says he tells everyone to get long term care now, when they are still young and it’s cheap.
  • But getting long-term care insurance is becoming more difficult. Ninety percent of insurers offering long-term care policies 10 years ago have left the business and rising costs are making it hard to make a profit.
  • Insurance companies are raising their premiums and offering less now that people are living longer and the U.S. population is getting older. Thirteen to 14 percent of Americans are currently older than 65. In 15 years that number will jump to 20 percent.
  • Associate Professor at Mt. Sinai Helen Fernandez said many Americans are relying on informal caregivers, such as family members, since insurance plans are too expensive.
  • If they don’t have family members look after them, they often rely on the emergency room and hospitals for care.