Asia's elderly population will more than triple in China, India, and Indonesia by 2050, according to a new report. And this week, the world's scientific heavyweights—the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the Science Council of Japan—came together for serious dialogue about how to manage an entire continent's massive elderly population.
The issue is so serious that in addition to the conference being held this week in Beijing, another one is already being planned for next March in India.
With family structures changing—such as grown children no longer living with their parents and more people leaving farms for city life—there is serious concern about what will happen to the elderly, especially regarding health and wellness and social support. The elderly across Asia are increasingly being left on their own, in a complete break from tradition. The burden on governments, hospitals, and social services in the future will thus be daunting.
We profiled Korea's situation earlier this year, highlighting the opportunity for mega brands like Samsung to step up their CSR efforts to focus on the elderly issue, since it is so pressing.
By 2050, the game of CSR in Asia may look entirely different—it's possible that the elderly issue, while not glamourous, may even overshadow Asia's obsession with climate change and green issues.
We'll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, scientists, not businesses, are taking the lead in tackling the issue, which is not different from how the buzz around climate change started.
The elderly will just need to get their own Al Gore and then their future in film and massive campaigns will be sealed.
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[Image: flickr user maveric2003]