Aging population has been a common problem in developed regions due to medical advanced and low fertility rate. Hong Kong is one of the regions which have been currently affected by the aging problem. The Census and Statistics Department (2012) state that “The proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to rise markedly, from 13% in 2011 to 30% in 2041”(¶6). The shifting of population will have enormous effects on the whole economy and the perspectives of Hong Kong. For example, increasing demand in elder’s welfare and low number of young laborers will lead to less income from tax and heavy social welfare burden. To solve the aging problem, the only way out is to increase the number of current labors. Thus, the shifting process will be hindered by increasing the population under 65 years old. And the government will have more income from laborers to support the whole welfare system. However, what is the most effective measure to increase the number of labors? To evaluate the best solution, three existing and modified solutions will be compared in the following.

The first measure to increase the number of laborers is to importing foreign laborers by immigration. In 2006, the quality migrant admission scheme has been adopted by the Hong Kong government to lure skillful and knowledgeable talents. Many famous stars have benefited from this scheme and immigrated to Hong Kong, such as Tang Wei and Li Yuan Di. Hong Kong is thus can be benefited by these famous laborers as they have raised the reputation in Hong Kong. It is suggested that we can modify the scheme to solve the aging problem. As the doorsill of the scheme is too high, there are only a few applicants and low number of successful applicants, which is far not enough to solve the aging problem. In order to increase the number of immigrants, we should lower the requirements for the applicants, from degree holder to different working class. On the other hand, the scheme in the past mainly accept application from financial aspects, many potential laborers from other aspects are not accepted. We should also recruit all-round laborers in different sectors. The modified scheme might help in increasing the number of skillful workers and lessen the adverse effect of aging problem.

The second method to be mentioned is to raising the fertility rate. We can thus increase the quantity of our future laborers. It is suggested that we should imitate the welfare policies of some advanced countries to do so, such as providing cash bonus and subsidize leave for parents. According to Wong(2013b),“In an attempt to boost the birth rate, parents are being offered subsidized leave - 12 months for a mother, 14 months for the father, available any time after the child's first birthday. They receive 60 per cent of their monthly salary, capped at 1,800”(¶6). In Singapore, the “Baby bonus” scheme has been adopted that the parents will get a cash gift over $6000. Apart from the financial subsidies, childcare center and facilities should also be included in the policies as the supplement. Apart from that, as Hong Kong has its specified housing problems that might hinder families for having babies, housing subsidies for families should also be considered. With the new birth-encouraging policies and promotion, youngsters in Hong Kong will be attracted to give birth to babies and thus the fertility rate can be raised.

Thirdly, we can adjust the retirement system in Hong Kong to maintain or increase current number of laborers. Wong (2013a) quoted that “Germany will postpone the retirement age from 65 to 67 before 2030, but will do so by one or two months a year to make it more acceptable to the public” (¶17). It is recommended that we can also extend the retirement age and hire retirees. As the living expense in Hong Kong is high, the youngsters will need to give extra financial support for their retired parents, or else the elders might seek help from the government. In order to lighten the burden of the elders, the government, and the young tax payers and help the elders to support themselves, an opportunity should be given for those retirees. They can choose to extend their retired age or get back to the workplace after retirement optionally. In order to encourage the small and medium-sized enterprises to re-hire the workers, Lee (as cited in Chong, 2012) notes that “a retired Health Department chief, said the government could take the lead by hiring retired senior officials, who currently bow out at 60”(¶14). And the government can choose to subsidize those enterprises for hiring retirees. Also, for the elders, their working performance should be evaluated before they get back to the workplace. By extending the retirement age or re- hire the retirees, the elders can support themselves and become less dependent to the government, which will lighten the effect of the aging problem.

Importing foreign labors, raising the fertility rate and adjusting the retirement system are the three solutions to increase the number laborers. But there are still some drawbacks and side-effects. To determine the best among the three solutions, we should now evaluate and analyze the impact and drawbacks it produced. The first to be considered is importing foreign laborers. Judging from the feasibility, it is hard for Hong Kong to attract skilled laborers from advanced countries such as Singapore and Europe. Because the living conditions of its counterparts are similar, Hong Kong will not be attractive for them, unless Hong Kong government provides more welfare and benefits to lure them. Then our target will only be the talents from mainland or South Asia countries such as Vietnam. Also, it is hard to guarantee that the talents will stay in Hong Kong without immigrate to other countries such as America or Canada later, unless we limit their further immigration (this limit will affect their consideration on whether immigrate to Hong Kong or not). Therefore, there are difficulties in recruiting suitable workers. As for the second method, raising the fertility rate, it is difficult for use to evaluate it effects in a short period. At the same time, more resources and money will be needed to support the policies such as constructing childcare center and providing financial support. And it is time-consuming to fix the housing problem that affecting the fertility will. For adjusting the existing retirement system, judging from its feasibility, it will be hard to reverse the concept of the employers that the ability of the elders are as well as the youngsters. And the elders might find difficulties physically.

By comparing all the three methods, I believe extending the retirement age is the most suitable and feasible method. Judging from the economic view, it takes less cost compared to other two methods. Considered the defects of the first solution, importing foreign immigrants might stir up the cultural difference controversies and the job opportunity controversies, such as the conflicts between mainland visitors and local residents. On the other hand, some of the foreign immigrants might see Hong Kong as a stepping-stone and might leave Hong Kong in the future. Considered the cons of the second solution, it takes longer time to implement and evaluate the outcome of the policies. And it is hard to deal with the interrelated social problem such as housing problem and the poverty problem, and change the concept of the local youngsters, as they might find educating babies in Hong Kong is a kind of burden and challenge.

Of course, extending the retirement age also has its defects. The elders might not have good physical strength to deal with the daily tasks. However, with a good evaluation scheme, we can still recruit suitable old-age talents to increase the number of laborers. As the scheme is a voluntary scheme, the employer can choose their workers freely and the employees can choose their working hours freely, depending on their physical abilities. Thus, more elders can support themselves without depending on the government. Compared to the other methods, it will be easier to implement to maintain the number of laborers. It can also solve the aging problem effect and old age poverty problem and help to elders to gain self-esteem at the same time.

(1383 words)

Reference List:

 

1)      Census and Statics Department, (2012, Jul 31). Hong Kong population    

projections 2012-2041.Retrieved from The Government of HKSAR website: http://www.censtatd.gov.hk/press_release/pressReleaseDetail.jsp?charsetID=1&pressRID=2990

2)      Chong, D. (2012, July 16). Retirement age will rise as workforce shrinks with an    

ageing population having fewer children. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/internationalnewspapers/docview/1024904303/13CF56AE8E2F1039E6/14?accountid=10134

3)      Wong, O. (2013a, Mar 12). Public asked for views on HK's ageing population    

advisers urge the government to reach out to young people who will bear the burden of looming financial problems. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/internationalnewspapers/docview/1315806081/13CF56AE8E2F1039E6/2?accountid=10134

4)      Wong , O. (2013b, Mar 12). retirement while Hong Kong struggles to come up   

with a solution to cope with an ageing population,  

Retrieved from

http://search.proquest.com/internationalnewspapers/docview/1315806074/13CF56AE8E2F1039E6/3?accountid=10134

 


Comments

Terry
04/30/2013 4:23am

Good structure and good choice of vocabulary.
You quoted related reference to support your ideas and this makes the essay more persuaive!

Reply
Ray
04/30/2013 6:56am

I agree with Terry that the structure of the essay is good and word choices are appropriate.

Reply
Tony
04/30/2013 7:28am

Well organized essay. I can see that you have used a variety of vocabularies and many examples to polish and support your essay!

Reply
Paz
09/10/2014 12:59am

what about the forth option? increasing female participation in the workforce!

Reply



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