Sun, Jan 27, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Nation quickly aging: analysis

TOUCH OF GRAY:Taiwan has a greater proportion of elderly than the US, South Korea and Malaysia, but still has a large working-age population, compared with dependents

Staff writer, with CNA

The nation’s population is aging rapidly, with the ratio of senior citizens aged 65 and over surpassing that of the US, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, according to a demographics analysis released by the Ministry of the Interior yesterday.

The ministry said that since 1993, the percentage of the population aged 65 and older has continued to rise, reaching 11.2 percent of the total population as of the end of last year.

The nation’s aging index — which gives an indication of the number of elderly people compared with the number of people aged up to 14 — is also high, according to the ministry’s report.

The aging index is calculated by taking the number of people aged 65 and over, dividing that figure by the number of people aged 14 and under and then multiplying that by 100.

The nation’s aging index stood at 76.2, which was higher than the world average of 30.77 and the average of 20.69 for developing countries, but still lower than most other developed countries.

However, Taiwan’s aging index is higher than that of its biggest economic competitor, South Korea (68.75), as well as other countries in Asia, including Singapore (52.94), Australia (73.68), New Zealand (70), the US (65), China (56.25), Malaysia (18.52) and the Philippines (11.43).

Among the developed countries with the highest aging index, Japan was at the top of the list with a figure of 184.62, followed by Germany at 161.54, the UK at 94.44, France at 89.47 and Canada at 87.5.

What is preventing the nation’s economy from entering a dangerous stage in terms of demographics is that it still has a large percentage of working-age people, compared with the number of dependents, who are defined as people who are 65 or older or age 14 or younger.

The proportion of dependents, known as the dependency ratio, is calculated by taking the number of people aged 14 and under and those aged 65 and over, dividing that total figure by the number of people aged 15 to 64 and then multiplying that number by 100.

The nation’s dependency ratio index was 34.74, similar to Singapore’s 35.14, but higher than China’s 33.33. It is lower than that of the UK, the US, South Korea and Malaysia.

In Taiwan, Chiayi County has the highest ratio of senior citizens, followed by Penghu and Yunlin counties, registering an aging index of 127.68, 113.61 and 110.10 respectively.

Taoyuan County was the “youngest” county in Taiwan. It registered an aging index of only 51.11, followed by Hsinchu City at 51.9 and Greater Taichung at 56.4.

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