Malaysia is officially classified as an aged society with more than 7% of the population this year are aged 65 and above. The World Bank calls for an inclusive aged care system to cope with the increasing dependant population as well as initiatives to foster productivity and protect incomes.
In its new report titled "A Silver Lining: Productive and Inclusive Aging for Malaysia" just launched, the group's representative to Malaysia and its country manager, Firas Raad, said slower population growth and shrinking relative size of the working-age population will account for a third of the decline in headline gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 2050. The poverty incidence and vulnerability of older persons will increase with age, while the prevalence of disabilities accumulates over longer life spans, increasing care needs.
A rising old-age dependency ratio could increase the vulnerability of older persons as families struggle to cope with care needs.
“Malaysia has an opportunity to better protect its elderly citizens and enable them to age with dignity and purpose. The provision of minimum income protection for older Malaysians will require further improvements in the coverage and adequacy of social insurance schemes. A broadly targeted tax-financed social pension may also be required to comprehensively cover the population,” he said during the virtual launch of the report earlier.
While an ageing population has its challenges, it is not without opportunities, the World Bank said, noting that serving needs and demands of older persons can open a new “silver economy”.
Therefore, there is room for improvements in employment prospects for older workers, with no evidence to suggest a negative impact on job prospects for younger workers. Additionally, if more Malaysians age 50 to 64 are active on the labour market, this can also serve to address talent shortages, the report said.
Meanwhile, developing the aged care sector can position the industry to be a new driver of economic growth, job creation, improved social services and a better quality of life, it said.