SINGAPORE: Singapore has been ranked third out of 15 Asia-Pacific countries in terms of silver industry market potential, said to be worth trillions of US dollars for the region.
This is according to the first Silver Economy Index compiled by local business consultancy Ageing Asia.
Life expectancy at birth and per capita household savings for those aged over 60 were among the factors considered in the index.
According to the US Census Bureau International Data Base, 2.3 million people in Singapore will be aged over 60 in 2050. That would amount to about 38 per cent of Singapore’s population. According to the first Silver Economy Index, that also represents a huge potential eldercare market.
Hong Kong emerged at the top of the index, followed by Australia. Japan and South Korea came in fourth and fifth respectively, while the Philippines and Myanmar were at the bottom of the index.
The index, which is part of a bi-annual Asia Pacific Silver Economy Business Opportunities report released by Ageing Asia, was released at the fourth Ageing Asia Investment Forum. Representatives at the forum included those from the government, community, healthcare and finance industries.
The report also revealed that the Asia Pacific silver economy could be worth some US$3 trillion by 2017; this is a 58 per cent increase compared to 2012.
Janice Chia, founder and managing director of Ageing Asia, said: "We're looking at some of the key industries like health care, retirement income and wellness that will do extremely well in this silver market… For Singapore in particular, ageing baby boomers will be better educated, they will want to age healthier, and they are a lot more affluent as well and they'll want better products and services that will help them to age with dignity, be independent and healthy."
While there may be many challenges facing ageing populations, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing stressed that they can be overcome.
"Many have used the words silver tsunami, as if there's a disaster that's going to happen… Ageing and an ageing population is not a crisis, if we prepare, and prepare well," he said.
Some industry players also added that a mindset change is needed.
Dr Tan Yong Seng, chairman of the People’s Association’s Active Ageing Council, said: “Be it housing, be it healthcare, be it service, food and beverages. Whatever it is, think ageless. How to open the bottle cap. Do I need to design something that the elderly cannot (use)? In terms of door handles, how do I make it elderly-friendly? So forget about this thing called elderly friendly, just design it ageless.