The Jakarta Post
An aging population is not yet a major issue for the country, but it is urgent for the government to maintain its policies on reducing fertility and population growth, experts have said.
'By 2025, the fertility rate is expected to decline to 2.1 children per woman [from 2.37 projected between 2010 to 2015] with the replacement level to one girl. To achieve this, we have to continue to reduce fertility by increasing the age of marriage, suppress teenage fertility and meet the unmet need for contraceptions,' University of Indonesia (UI) demographic economy expert Sri Moertiningsih Adioetomo said during a discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday.
She said it would be years before the country faced the problem of an aging population.
'By 2035, the proportion of working age population will be at 67 percent and older persons at 10.6 percent,' she said.
The country will face negative population growth only by 2070, during which the total fertility rate was expected to stand at 1.84 children per woman with a replacement level of 0.89 girl per woman.
'So, there is a window of opportunity for Indonesia to fully maximize its current demographic dividend from 2035 to 2070. The demographic bonus and the window of opportunity is not merely an illusion but is a powerful message to warn policymakers that we have to do something to reap the
benefits,' Sri said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Chatib Basri, who gave a speech at the discussion, said the country would likely have problems reaping the demographic dividend due to the low quality of human capital.
'In terms of education attainment, Indonesia is not one of the best compared to our neighbors, such as Thailand and Singapore. This is something that we need to catch up on in order to reap the benefits of the demographic bonus,' Chatib said.
Chatib said that within the next 10 to 15 years, the global economic landscape would significantly change as he believed the United States would become an exporter while the Asian region would be the center of global trade. Therefore, he added, Indonesia needed to face the inevitable and prepare to become a major global player.
Chatib said Indonesia needed to gain a comparative advantage in the form of intangible assets for it to succeed in the future competitive global market in Asia.
'The future comparative advantage is an intangible asset and that intangible asset is policies. Businesses will decide based on a country's policies. In order to have good policies, you need a good quality of people,' Chatib said.
To improve the quality of human capital, Chatib said the government had set up numerous incentive programs to invite the private sector to provide more training along with research and development investment in Indonesia.
Australian National University demographic expert Peter McDonald said that Indonesia had to also improve its population registration system so that it could prepare better and more accurate policies on its demography.
'There is a very definite need for clarity about the trends of fertility, mortality and population growth in Indonesia,' McDonald said.
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