Shifting Demographics in Saudi Arabia: Embracing the Potential of an Aging Population
Concerns concerning the demographic shift in Saudi Arabia have been brought up in a recent report by the management consulting firm Strategic Gears. The nation, renowned for its youthful populace, is about to undergo a dramatic upheaval as it gradually shifts to an older society. Although Saudi Arabia currently has a young, active population that stimulates economic growth and productivity, the country’s demographics are about to change, necessitating careful planning and preparedness to deal with the potential social and economic effects of an ageing population.
The fact that 63 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s people are under the age of 30 helps the country’s economy to grow and thrive. The number of people over 40, 50, and 60 who reach retirement age is expected to rise noticeably over the course of the next ten years, however, causing a significant upheaval in the current landscape. It is crucial to understand that while the young population is a vital asset, older adults also contribute significantly to the labour force and society in terms of expertise and knowledge. A workforce that is diverse and inclusive and that includes people of all ages may holistically contribute to the development of the country.
Saudi Arabia has a relatively slower ageing population than many other countries. Nevertheless, it is one of the G20 nations that is experiencing a sharp fall in birth rates, which is causing the youthful population to decline. Life expectancy has almost doubled since the 1960s due to improvements in public health and medicine, and by 2050, it is expected to reach 83 years.
In Saudi Arabia, several reasons have led to this demographic transition. Notably, traditional standards have changed, including delayed marriage and childbearing and smaller families, due to social and economic advances, higher education levels (especially among women), rising female participation in the work sector, and higher living expenses.
Saudi Arabia must take proactive action and implement the appropriate safeguards to lessen the possible social and economic effects of an ageing population. The long-term impact on different areas, such as the economy, labour market, health and social care, housing and infrastructure, and society at large, must be considered by policymakers.
A drop in the working-age population caused by an ageing population may pressure the potential increase of the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. More people will claim pension benefits if the retirement age stays the same while life expectancy rises, resulting in more public spending on pensions and healthcare. Saudi Arabia might look into business prospects and fresh markets that serve the demands of the ageing population, particularly in the transportation, housing, and entertainment industries, to address this difficulty.
The demand to improve healthcare services, accessibility to services, housing options, social activities, and sporting facilities is growing with the ageing population. The nation should create accessible, senior-friendly neighbourhoods with relevant programs and services. In addition, programs like flexible retirements, pension incentives, and employment possibilities explicitly designed for those in their 60s and older can promote active participation in the labour force and society.
Senior citizens who have served their country must be honoured for their contributions. Implementing welfare programs, social protection systems, and unofficial caregiving networks can aid in the battle against poverty, lessen inequality, and promote the social inclusion of the elderly. A supportive environment for the elderly can be created by programs including home help facilities, home nursing, domestic support, senior citizen clubs, neighbourhood support programs, mobile clinics, and nutrition guidance.
A massive demographic shift is about to occur in Saudi Arabia, as the country’s current youthful advantage will eventually give way to an ageing population. To deal with the social and economic effects of this demographic shift, proactive planning, regulatory changes, and investments in aged care are essential. Saudi Arabia can create a diversified, inclusive labour force and a thriving society that meets everyone’s needs by embracing the potential of the young and the old, assuring long-term growth for the nation.