Sri Lanka’s rapidly ageing population will offer so many opportunities for businesses and create a positive impact on the overall economy if Sri Lanka puts right policies in place, said Lakshman Dissanayake, Senior Professor in Demography and Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo.
Sri Lanka needs to put right policies in place to better garner benefits from its first demographic dividend, and Sri Lanka’s rapidly ageing population will offer so many opportunities for businesses and create a positive impact on the overall economy.
“They will certainly request and demand for certain things and it will have a positive impact on local businesses in the future. We can make our ageing population as an opportunity, if we can make them productive and healthy by improving the quality of our current labour force. If the government is able to provide decent employment opportunities to the current labour force and improve their savings capacity; by the time they reach their elderly age of 60-65 or at the time of their retirement, they will accumulate some wealth in order to take care of themselves during their elderly age,” Prof. Dissanayake told the 15th South Asian Economic Students’ Meet, jointly organized by the Faculty of Economics, University of Colombo and the World Bank in Colombo.
Noting that the majority of planners in Sri Lanka don’t pay much attention to the changing ageing structure of the population, especially the age sex structure of the population, which determines the needs and requirements of the society, Prof. Dissanayake emphasised that the needs and requirements of the society are primarily determined by each individual’s age and gender.
“It is very important for us to look at several aspects of the economy; it is not just looking at the core economic ideas. Also, we have to bring or add some multi-disciplinary flavours into the overall economic activities,” he said.
As per calculations of Prof. Dissanayake, the first demographic dividend of Sri Lanka will continue until 2027. According to him country’s first demographic dividend was created due to historical declining of fertility and improved survival chances.
Second demographic dividend starts with the termination of first demographic dividend. In Sri Lanka according to his calculation, the terminal year for the first demographic dividend is in 2037.Sri Lanka is ageing and its ageing process is faster than most of countries in the region.
In 2012, persons above the age of 60 category accounted for 12.4% of the total population. By 2031, as per my medium-term projections, that will come to about 22%. And a lot of people are alarmed by looking at this ageing process.” he said.
He further added that artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and data analytics could be utilized to cater to the diverse requirements of ageing population in the near future.