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A shortfall of caregivers for the elderly in Hong Kong will cause significant economic and opportunity costs to employers and employees.
As life expectancy in Hong Kong rises, the cost of taking care of elderly people who are in need of care – either subsidised or non-subsidised residential care or home care – is expected to reach HK$222 billion per year by 2060, an increase of 5.7 times from the current cost of HK$38.8 billion per year, according to the just-released report Eldercare Hong Kong: The Projected Societal Cost of Eldercare in Hong Kong 2018 to 2060.
“The fact that the number of Hongkongers receiving, and giving, eldercare is expected to double in the next 20 years should be a massive wake-up call for all of us who work and live in Hong Kong,” said Edward Moncreiffe, Hong Kong CEO for HSBC Life.
“With increasing life expectancy and the demand for eldercare increasingly outstripping available supply, the outcome may be significant costs to employers and employees. It is critical that individuals and employers take action now to reduce what will otherwise be a substantial burden on Hong Kong society.”
The indirect costs to employers and informal caregivers – in terms of lost employee productivity – will rise steeply. According to the study projections, the current indirect cost of eldercare for employers is HK$1.8 billion. This will rise to HK$5.3 billion by 2040. By 2060, the cost to employers is expected to grow 4.7 times to about HK$8.4 billion.
For informal working caregivers, who lose both income and career advancement opportunities, the total opportunity cost is projected to increase dramatically – about four-fold – from HK$1.8 billion in 2018, to HK$4.9 billion by 2040, and to HK$7.2 billion in 2060.
The cost projections are based on cash flow models built by HSBC Life.
“There are no easy solutions to this issue, but we believe public-private partnerships can be the primary solution to providing quality and cost-effective eldercare in Hong Kong,” said Dr Vivian Lou, director, Sau Po Centre on Ageing, The University of Hong Kong.
“Through (such) partnerships, we look forward to a future where no-one feels obliged to leave the labour force because of eldercare.”