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Ageing Society Presents Opportunities

We all know Hong Kong is gradually becoming an ageing society, and we must consider the tricky question of how to bear the costs of increasing numbers of retirees. But at the same time, we should also be mindful of the many opportunities that are opening up as a result of this population shift.

For its part, the Hong Kong Jockey Club launched its Age-friendly City Partnership Scheme recently, to encourage businesses to help create an age-friendly community. Here at the Chamber we fully support this aim, and we are a supporting organizer of the scheme. Government, charities and businesses can cooperate and contribute to create a city that works for all of our citizens.

At the forum to launch the Jockey Club scheme, it was noted that Japan can provide some examples for businesses, as it is a little way ahead of Hong Kong in terms of an ageing population. Some of the country’s large corporates – including Panasonic, Toyota and Hitachi – have entered the retirement home sector, for example.

Speakers at the event also pointed out that the level of employment of older people is low in Hong Kong compared to Japan and Singapore. With people living longer and healthier lives, a retirement age of around 60 does not made a great deal of sense – especially given Hong Kong’s tight manpower issue.

Technology is another key area. Products to help older people with mobility and communication will help them live independently and remain active. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has given a significant boost to the Government’s investment in innovation and technology. Here is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and companies to come up with innovative products and solutions for the elderly.

Not only would this benefit our own society, successful products could be marketed around the world. Hong Kong is far from alone in facing this demographic shift – across Europe and in the United States, for example, the percentage of older people is rising.

Discussions about the business opportunities in this sector often revolve around health services and products, for obvious reasons. Many of us will need some extra help and care as we get older.

But it’s also important to remember that old age does not automatically mean being ill or incapacitated. I’m sure we all have friends and relatives who are fit and active into their seventies, eighties and perhaps even beyond. Many of these older people have deep pockets in addition to plenty of leisure time, and are a consumer market that should not be ignored.

As this cohort of sprightly older people grows larger, so will the opportunities in the sectors that cater for them, from clothes to hobbies and holidays. This “silver market” can only get bigger as the number of older people in Hong Kong, and around the world, continues to grow.

Posted on 2018/06/28

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