Demographic Change, Productivity, and the Role of Technology
- Project Name: Asian Economic Integration: Building Knowledge for Policy Dialogue, 2018–2021
- Region/Country: Regional/All Developing Member Countries
- Sector and Themes: Multisector
- Year: 2018-Present
- Project Leaders: Cyn-Young Park and Aiko Kikkawa Takenaka
I found it wonderful to analyze the changes in the demographics of Asian countries… and to analyze the role that technology can play in combating the acceleration of aging and the declining working population.
Improving a country’s educational profile can help ensure a constant stream of quality human capital. Countries need to acknowledge that while demographic transition is irreversible, economic impact can still be positive depending on the policy response. As such, it is crucial for economies in the Asia and Pacific region to explore policies that cater to the changing demographics and technologies that encourage the aging population to remain active for economic development.
ADB’s ERCD worked closely with the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department’s technology, social development, education, and health thematic groups, and regional departments, to publish the Asian Economic Integration Report 2019/2020: Demographic Change, Productivity, and the Role of Technology (AEIR). ERCD set up a joint event with the Social Development Thematic Group on employment and education for the elderly, and another event with the Education Thematic Group on digital skills and lifelong learning. ERCD also actively collaborated with many academic institutions and think tanks across the region.
Knowledge products and services delivered
AEIR made valuable recommendations on how aging populations can contribute to economic development, including how innovation and technology can turn demographic headwinds to tailwinds. It also made policy recommendations for ADB’s 49 diverse DMCs to help them make the most of an aging workforce. It is a valuable resource for four types of countries looking to leverage technology to tackle population aging:
- fast aging and above median education,
- fast aging and below median education,
- slow aging and below median education, and
- slow aging and above median education.
The findings of the report were actively disseminated at policy and population aging events in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Hawaii, and via social media.
Impact and results
The publication proved to be a valuable resource for aging economies in Asia looking to leverage technology and innovative policies to effectively deal with the demographic transition. It provides concrete policy recommendations on the types of technology appropriate for each country, and highlights the reforms required in social security, labor markets, lifelong learning, and innovation to capture the gains from the demographic transition.
Knowledge from the report has been used in various policy processes and programs including the G20’s Think 20 initiative, and WHO’s Regional Action Plan on Healthy Aging in the Western Pacific. It also formed the basis of Sri Lanka’s national report on population aging. ADB’s expertise at the intersection of population, aging, technology, and economic growth has attracted interest from Columbia University to collaborate on the Columbia World Project on Sustainable Aging; and the Government of Thailand for assistance in encouraging digital technology among the older adults in the country.
Lessons for Replication
The AEIR and associated database are a valuable resource for a diversity of developing countries looking to leverage technology to tackle population aging. Other projects could also learn from the effective information dissemination and marketing strategies adopted for the AEIR.