A common thread across advanced economies, from Germany to Japan to the United States, is for their populations to grow rich in parallel with growing old. With more wealth to cushion themselves, couples opt to have fewer children. Benefiting from better health care, people live longer. Emerging market Asia is largely following this trend. As the region has made great strides in reducing poverty levels and seen a burgeoning middle class, it is also rapidly graying.
Emerging Asian economies include seven of the ten countries with the largest elderly (65 years and older) populations: China (first), India (second), Indonesia (fourth), Bangladesh (seventh), Pakistan (eighth), Vietnam (ninth), and Thailand (tenth). Median ages are rising across the region due to falling fertility rates and improved health care. As in advanced economies, the disease profile has shifted, with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and dementia which require long-term treatment and care eclipsing communicable diseases.