Just like the mining boom the proved a huge benefit to Australia, the Asian dining boom that is now driving our agriculture exports may not last forever.
But it could well turn into a nursing boom as an ageing region worries more about the quaility of their healthcare.
A new analysis by consultants Deloitte forecasts by the 2030s Asia will be home to over 60 per cent of the world’s population aged over 65 – from 365 million now to more than 520 million.
While Australia’s ageing population will weigh on the nation’s economic growth over the next decade, the challenge will be even greater for the likes of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand.
Together with Japan – which has already had to navigate decades of rising ageing – these countries make-up almost half of Australia’s merchandise exports.
“It’s still a good news story for Australia, just not as good,” Deloitte Australia economist Chris Richardson told AAP on Monday.
“Changing demographics will have a big impact on the backdrop for Australian businesses and what they are selling into.”
He says while this ageing population will have money, spending is likely to be more domestically orientated, especially on health care and where costs are increasing as new technologies are introduced.
Deloitte predicts the size of the Australian workforce will shrink by four per over the coming decade as a result of an ageing population, slightly less than New Zealand and China at 4.2 per cent.
But Singapore, for example, will contract by 8.4 per cent and Hong Kong by a hefty 13.8 per cent.
“They are going to get a hell of a lot of retirements and not necessarily heaps of new workers,” Mr Richardson says.
However, at the other end of the scale, it expects the workforces of the Philippines, Indonesia and especially India will expand.
Deloitte expects India’s workforce will grow from 885 million to 1.08 billion by 2037 and to 1.12 billion in 2050, larger than China workforce of 1.01 billion as of 2014.
Mr Richardson – describing it as an “Indian summer set to last for half a century” – doesn’t believe Australian businesses and governments are quite ready for this change.
“At some stage, they will require that wake-up call,” he says.