No evidence that ageing societies have economic problems: Austrian demographer

The image of the elderly in Singapore has to change as older generations become increasingly educated, Austrian demography expert Professor Wolfgang Lutz said on Tuesday in an Institute of Policy Studies public lecture.

"The image of today's elderly in Singapore is strongly formed by the fact that (they) are largely uneducated," he said. But he noted that the proportion of Singaporeans with tertiary education has been rising, which will lead to the future elderly being better-educated.

Citing statistics which show that better-educated elderly people tend to be healthier and more productive than their less-educated peers, he said the combination of these trends sheds doubt on the common expectation that ageing societies have economic problems: "I don't really see any evidence of this in any country."

Professor Lutz is in Singapore for three weeks as a National University of Singapore Society Distinguished Professor. At a seminar last Wednesday, he said countries should not aim for a total fertility rate of 2.1, and suggested 1.7 as an optimal level of fertility for Singapore.

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