[Thanh Nien News, 13 May 2015.] Thanh Nien News has published an article by Minh Le dated 1 May 2015 titled,  After cashing in on ‘golden demographics’ Vietnam braces for grayer times.

An edited extract of the article appears below.

Its vibrant populace, in a culture that increasingly reveres youth, sometimes makes people feel Vietnam will never grow old.

For years the country has cashed in on its so-called “golden demographics,” in which the number of dependent citizens is much smaller than the labor pool…

But Vietnam cannot be forever young.

While the country’s median age is now low — at around 29 compared to China’s 37, for instance —its population growth is no longer driven by births, but by more people living longer. It is only a matter of time before the golden age passes. And the clock is ticking fast.

Most of the world has seen its population skew toward the aged, and so the trend is inevitable.

The difference is that for Vietnam and some others it will be a very steep climb down the demographic peak. Aging will likely hit Vietnam with full force within a very short span of time, whereas in most developed nations it comes gradually, and often after the dream of prosperity has been realized.

The World Bank, in a report released last month, warned that East Asia and the Pacific is “aging faster than any region in history, driven primarily by a rapid decline in fertility, but also increased longevity.”

Transitioning from an aging to an aged society, where people of 65 and above account for 14 percent or more of the total population, took the UK 45 years, the US 69 years and France 115 years.

For Vietnam, this transition would come in a mere 15 years, and complete well before the 2040s, the report forecast…

Steady annual growth of around 6 percent has lifted many Vietnamese out of poverty in recent years, but the country’s annual per capita income is barely past US$2,000.

More efforts are required to bring the share of population living below $2 a day from 12.1 percent in 2012 to 5.8 percent in 2017 — the year that policymakers believe will mark the beginning of the aging phase, though some argue it has begun…


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