July 24th, 2018

Aging Population and Automation: Which Nations Face High Risk

Posted at 1:00 AM ET

patty-sungleslie-chacko-headshotPatty Sung, Innovation Leader at the Mercer Global Innovation Hub and Leslie Chacko, Director at Global Risk Center, Marsh & McLennan Companies


The specific countries that face a high risk of automation of jobs held by older workers also tend to have projections for a rapidly aging population, according to the study The Twin Threats of Aging and Automation by Marsh & McLennan Companies.

A number of Asian countries, particularly those that are manufacturing hubs, are considered to be particularly at high risk. By contrast, older workers in Canada and Australia have the lowest risk of losing their jobs to automation.

China, Thailand and Vietnam have particularly large numbers of older workers at risk of job automation. Older workers in China are doing work that is 76 percent automatable. At the same time, by 2030 the number of Chinese workers aged 50-64 will increase 1.28 times from the figure in 2015. In China and Thailand, more than 30 percent of the working population will be 50 to 64 years old by 2030. Developed Asian nations, namely, Japan, Singapore and South Korea are also rapidly aging and have populations of older workers who are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation.

In Europe, Italy and Germany, both with large bases of manufacturing and industrial jobs, are at high risk. In Italy, older workers do work that is 58 percent automatable and people in the 50-64 age range will increase 1.17 times by 2030 to account for 38 percent of the workforce. In Germany, workers in that age range are projected to make up more than a third of the workforce by 2030. Older workers in Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom can also be at risk of losing their job to automation.

In many nations in the Americas, 45 percent of older works are doing work that is automatable. The situation is particularly acute in Chile where the figure stands at 63 percent. The nation’s population is also aging at a rapid rate. By contrast, in the United States and Canada, older workers are projected to shrink as a portion of the working-age population by 2030; and the two nations have comparatively much lower risks of automation.

Companies can benefit from helping their older employees by retraining and preparing them for the changes in the economy. They can invest the productivity gains from automation into retraining the older workers and utilize their unique abilities.

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