Ageing in Asia
Panel organised by: Björn Alpermann (Universität Würzburg)
Questions related to population ageing no longer affect only the early industrialized countries of Europe and North America but Asian countries as well. The United Nations projects that the population aged 60 years and older in the Asia-Pacific region will more than double between 2015 and 2050 – reaching 1.3 billion or one fourth of the regional population total. As such, population ageing is a mega trend that will have profound impacts on economies and societies as well as necessitating far-reaching governmental efforts to enhance social security. The speed of this transition is unprecedented and in most of the region it is occurring under conditions of much lower development levels compared to the early industrialized countries. While there is a great diversity in experiences within that region – ranging from “super-ageing” Japan to countries in the early stages of demographic transition – even in the latter societies often have to address ageing-related issues and develop new forms of providing elder care. For instance, increased mobility of younger generations may leave elderly parents with limited support or introduce the “skipped generation household” as a new family form, when grandparents have to take care of their children’s offspring, while the middle generation has migrated in search of work. Despite traditional norms stipulating that adult children care for their elderly parents, the phenomenon of “left-behind elderly” has appeared in many Asian countries. Respect for old-age and family support can no longer be taken for granted as these societies undergo rapid social changes and their moral foundations may be undermined or at least transformed by the renegotiation of intergenerational relations. At the same time, governments in the region chime in the global chorus of “productive”, “active” and “healthy ageing” – concepts which aim both at improving how people spend their end of life and at lowering the social costs of the growing elderly population that is increasingly seen as a burden.
The proposed panel will examine how Asian societies cope with ageing and adapt to its consequences, what strategies social and political actors pursue to prepare for ageing and counter potential negative impacts of the demographic transition currently underway. Open to contributions from the fields of sociology, anthropology, demographics, social policy etc., the panel provides a platform for interdisciplinary exchange and comparative perspectives and strives to integrate papers devoted to various Asian countries or regions.