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Significant talent: A senior citizen is seen working as a technician in this file photo. Experts say that those above 60 who have skills should be hired with flexible working arrangements.

AS Malaysia struggles to exit the middle-income trap, the country has to juggle a shrinking population that is also ageing earlier than previously expected.

To put it simply, Malaysia is getting old before it gets rich.

The fertility rate as of 2020 had dropped to the lowest level in 40 years, with the Malaysian Chinese community being the worst affected.

The country has also transitioned into an “ageing society”, and in less than 25 years, Malaysia is on track to becoming “aged” as the share of the population above the age of 65 increases to about 14%.Datuk Norma Mansor: It should be made mandatory for every Malaysian adult to be a part of the national social protection system.

In comparison, the same transition from “ageing” to “aged” took France 115 years, Sweden 85 years and Australia 73 years.

Ageing is not something to be ashamed of, and in fact, is a reflection of the country’s improved longevity.

However, as the working population reduces in size due to a slower population growth, the dynamics of Malaysia’s demographic pyramid will be disrupted.

Pension costs will balloon and the smaller share of working-age Malaysians will have to support the economy. Official projection shows that pension payments are expected to reach RM46.6bil in 2030, a massive increase from RM9.88bil in 2010.

To add salt to injury, the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s decision to allow withdrawals have wreaked havoc on Employees Provident Fund or EPF savings. Currently, almost half of EPF members have less than RM10,000 in their account.

How many of these depositors can play catch-up and attain the basic savings required to sustain life post-retirement?

And with the ever-increasing cost of living, can working children afford to support their retired parents financially?

Like it or not, amid the eventual depletion of petroleum reserves, future generations will have to pay more taxes to keep the economy alive. This is why the eventual return of the goods and services tax is almost certain.

Above all, there will no longer be a “demographic dividend” that has driven not only Malaysia, but also the entire world, for the past several decades.CLICK TO ENLARGE

This will put pressure on various industries such as housing, banking and consumerism, to name a few.


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