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Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Indian National Science Academy; Indonesian Academy of Sciences; National Research Council of the U.S. National Academies; Science Council of Japan. Preparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia: Strengthening the Scientific Basis of Policy Development. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

Cover of Preparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia

Preparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia: Strengthening the Scientific Basis of Policy Development.

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1Key Messages


  • The population of Asia is aging rapidly at the same time that other major social and economic transformations are occurring throughout much of the continent. As a result, Asian countries should be planning for a time in the not-too-distant future when the fraction of the population that is aged 65 and older is considerably larger than it is today.
  • Population aging is a triumph of civilization and medical science, but it also raises critical issues for countries, states, and families related to economic growth, economic security in old age, health care, and the strength of familial support systems.


  • Scientists are increasingly being asked to assist policy makers and planners in developing sound public policies and designing more effective and efficient public services.
  • Yet partly because the older population was smaller in the past, in many countries of Asia the scientific basis for formulating evidence-based policy for aging is relatively underdeveloped.
  • Fortunately, there is still time to mobilize resources to study the problems associated with population aging. Investments in data collection today are likely to yield significant benefits that will accumulate over time.
  • Although every country’s approach to social policy is unique and undoubtedly influenced by different historical and cultural factors, countries (especially those in the relatively early stages of population aging) can learn much from each other. Coordinated research activity can compound the returns from investments made by individual countries in research.


  • Many of the policy challenges associated with population aging can benefit from greater scientific knowledge.
  • Social and behavioral science can be invaluable to understanding key aspects of the well-being of older populations, such as family relationships, social and economic circumstances, and health status.
  • Experience has shown that social science surveys are particularly useful when:
    • They are population based.
    • They are nationally representative.
    • They have a longitudinal research design.
    • They are multidisciplinary in nature and cover in one place a number of key domains, such as work, retirement, income, pensions, savings and wealth, familial support networks, and health and well-being.
    • They allow for cross-national comparisons.
    • Data are made publicly available in a timely fashion, thereby maximizing the power of the scientific method.
  • Investments in data collection and analysis should be accompanied by training and support for the next generation of researchers in the various topics related to population aging.
Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK53402


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