Side Event

Launch of Asian Development Policy Report 2024: Aging Well in Asia

Thursday, 2 May 2024, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm (Asia/Tbilisi)
Radisson Blu Iveria, Ballroom 1 & 2

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Panelists

Aiko KikkawaSenior Economist, Economic Research and Development Impact Department, ADB 

Aiko Kikkawa is a lead author of the inaugural Asian Development Policy Report 2024: Aging Well in Asia, as well as the Asian Economic Integration Report 2019/2020: Demographic Change, Productivity, and the Role of Technology. She provides technical assistance to ADB members on the introduction and implementation of aging surveys.

Norma MansorDirector, Social Wellbeing Research Centre, Universiti Malaya 

Norma Mansor has held her current role at Universiti Malaya since 2013. She was appointed secretary of Malaysia’s National Economic Advisory Council, Prime Minister’s Department (2009 to 2011) after being the dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration at Universiti Malaya from April 2004 to June 2009. She was also the executive director of the International Institute of Public Policy and Management from September 2001 until March 2004.

Philip O'KeefeProfessor of Practice, University of New South Wales Business School and Director, Ageing Asia Research Hub, Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research

Prior to his current role, Philip O'Keefe worked from 1993-2021 at the World Bank, based in East Asia and Pacific, South Asia, and Europe and Central Asia regions. During his World Bank career, he was practice manager for social protection and jobs, and before that, regional lead human development economist for East Asia and the Pacific, as well as lead social protection economist for India and Nepal.

Albert ParkChief Economist and Director General, Economic Research and Development Impact Department, ADB

Albert F. Park is ADB’s chief spokesperson on economic and development trends and leads the production of its flagship knowledge products and support for regional cooperation fora. He has more than 2 decades of experience as a development economist and is recognized as an expert on the economy of the People’s Republic of China. He has worked on a broad range of development issues including poverty and inequality, intergenerational mobility, microfinance, migration and labor markets, the future of work, and foreign investment. Mr. Park is chair professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Policy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (on leave). He served as a founding director of the university’s Institute for Emerging Market Studies and professor at the University of Oxford and University of Michigan. A national of the United States, he received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and his doctorate in applied economics from Stanford University.

Moderator

Sharanjit LeylFormer Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC News 

Sharanjit Leyl has spent 18 years with BBC World News, covering business and politics, anchoring from its Asia bureau and from London's Broadcasting House. A national of Singapore, she has produced and presented BBC documentaries on TV and radio about her city and was commended as best news presenter at the Asian TV Awards. Ms. Leyl now regularly moderates high-level debates for the United Nations, ADB, World Bank, and other multilateral and financial institutions.

ADB launched a new flagship publication, the Asian Development Policy Report 2024: Aging Well in Asia, calling for policymakers in the region to take steps to ensure current and future generations of older people age well. During the presentation of the report, lead author Aiko Kikkawa stated, “Developing Asia is aging rapidly, reflecting success, but the region remains largely unprepared to ensure the well-being of older persons.” Older Asians remain vulnerable to lifestyle diseases, lack of access to decent jobs, and essential services such as healthcare and long-term care. Pension coverage remains low, and there are growing incidents of loneliness and social isolation.

According to Norma Mansor, the pervasive informality of work and limited coverage of social protection are the root causes of this unpreparedness and require immediate policy responses. The risks of inaction are high, said Philip O’Keefe, which can manifest as welfare costs of poor quality of life, widening inequality, and additional fiscal cost from rising public expenditure on health and pensions. While aging-related policy reforms are doable, it is hard to get them off the ground. Therefore, both panelists stressed that now is the best time for countries in the region to review their policies and help their citizens prepare for later life.

Albert Park emphasized that while some actions to ensure old-age well-being inevitably call for expanding fiscal space, there are policies that do not come at a huge cost. These include promoting preventive healthcare, designing pensions that do not disincentivize work, and designing pensions that automatically adjust to longevity and fiscal budget, as well as leveraging technology in administering social assistance programs. Philip O’Keefe also pointed out that delivering primary health care and community-based aged care are proven to be cost-effective to address the health and care needs of older people.

More efforts are needed to ensure women prepare to age well, and it requires systems that support their labor force participation and reward social work, said Norma Mansor. Panelists agreed that investing in human capital for people of all ages is key to ensuring well-being in old age. This way, the region can maximize the “silver dividend,” the social and economic contribution that stems from healthy and productive older populations.